What Does Spelling Have to Do With a Job Interview?

Not once have I been given a spelling test or a grammar test during a job interview (well, at least not when it wasn’t related to the job). What I didn’t realize until I became an interviewer myself is that a spelling test is standard component of the hiring process. And it happens before the job interview ever starts.

Would you believe that everyday hundreds of highly-qualified candidates are tossed out of the application review pile because they misspelled the company’s name or turned one run-on sentence into several paragraphs? In a 2009 survey of executives, 48% said that two or more typos could cost the applicant a job.

While it may not be important to the job, spelling is important to the hiring process. If you have not taken the create and submit a well-worded cover letter and resume, what does that say about your work ethic? The interviewer begins to doubt you and thinks, “If you couldn’t make sure this one document was correct, how are you going to perform on the job? Are you just going to skim over the relevant facts, not put in any extra effort, and say that mistakes aren’t a big deal?

Given the choice between two highly-qualified candidates, one with several spelling mistakes and one with none, I will call back the person who had no mistakes. If you are that person, you get a job interview. If you are the misspeller, better luck next time.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid unnecessary rejection:

1. Use spell check as a guide, not an authority. Programmers try their best to code all the spelling and grammar rules, but English is tough and computers don’t know everything. Learn the difference between they’re and their, it’s and its, and be sure you are attaching your resume instead of attacking it.

2. Make sure the company name and position name are correct. Not only is spelling important here, but if you are using a template and forget to change the information, you’re going to be tossed out of the competition without a second glance.

3. Ask a knowledgeable friend to help. If your buddy is just as bad at spelling as you are, asking him to review your cover letter and resume isn’t the smartest move. Go to someone you view as an expert, whether that’s a coworker, parent, or resume review service.

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