Whether you’re seeking your first job or are mid-way through your career, chances are you’ll have to sit through a face-to-face interview to land a new job.
Job interviews can be very stressful, especially when you know you’re up against tens or hundreds of other candidates.
My advice? Be relaxed, be prepared and be sure to read on for what not to do during your next job interview.
Here’s a round-up of the biggest mistakes job seekers can make during an interview.
- Aaron Green, president of Professional Staffing Group in Boston Next
Showing up late
This is a huge no-no. It shows disrespect for the interviewer’s time and lack of responsibility on your part. It’s also largely avoidable.
Candidates should look up the interview location
in advance and plan their travel accordingly. If you’ll be meeting during rush hour, allow extra time to get there.
Also, build in margin for error if you’re scheduling multiple interviews because sometimes you can run late despite best intentions.
For instance, if you schedule multiple interviews in one day and the first interview runs late or goes so well that the interviewer asks you to meet others at the office, what will you do? You don’t want to leave the first interview, nor do you want to be late to the second one. Even the best intentioned people sometimes fail to make a contingency plan.
If you do end up running late, be prepared with the proper contact information so you can notify the interviewer. Next
Appearances count and it’s true that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Pay attention to your appearance.
The best way to make sure you’ll be wearing the right outfit is to find out what is normal dress for the job – ask your recruiter (if you’re working with one), ask the HR manager who schedules the interview if you’re comfortable doing so or even stop by the office to see what people are wearing so that you can dress appropriately. Like most things, office dress codes were simpler long ago. Work outfits were ‘white collar’ or ‘blue collar’ (or a uniform) and everyone knew what was meant.
Nowadays it’s not so easy. Standard advice used to be to dress a level above the office look for an interview, but since offices have become more and more casual in their dress codes, candidates risk looking out of step if they show up in formal business attire. Take care that the clothing you wear fits correctly and is properly cared for.
In addition to your outfit, you can boost your appearance by smiling, making eye contact, practicing good posture and exercising a firm handshake.
At the risk of sounding like your parent (but, sadly, it needs to be said): remember not to chew gum and don’t fidget.
Answering a phone during an interview
There’s a reason public venues ask you to turn off your cell phone: they’re interruptive and disturbing.
You certainly don’t want to interrupt the conversation to answer a call or text or to check messages, but it’s better to turn off your phone altogether so that you won’t need to fumble to silence it if a call comes through, and you won’t subject your interviewer to annoying beeps every time a text comes in.
Not being prepared
It’s hard to imagine candidates who show up for an interview without understanding what the company does and/or what role they’re interviewing for. But it happens, and when it does, the hiring manager has an immediate cause to eliminate that candidate for consideration.
Not only should you research the company in advance and do your best to understand what’s required in the job opening, but you should also prepare your own answers to standard interview questions and be able to explain how your experience matches what the employer is looking for.
Have questions ready to ask the interviewer as well.
Talking about salary too soon
Salary is an important topic when deciding whether a job is a fit.
However, you should go into an interview with an idea of what the salary range will be (and if your
salary goal is not in that range, then you are wasting the interviewer’s time).
Bringing up the topic of salary too early in an interview tells the interviewer that you’re more interested in money than in doing the job. Knowing when to broach delicate topics – like salary – demonstrates your sense of business savvy and a professional etiquette. Next
Bad-mouthing a former boss or co-workers
There are all kinds of ways to talk about jobs that didn’t work out well, and many experienced interviewers can read between the lines and understand a
situation for what it is.
My recommendation is to take the high road when describing a situation that didn’t end well and avoid negative talk about a specific person or company. For instance, instead of saying that a former or current boss is unqualified or a poor manager, you could say that the situation didn’t meet your career objectives and you’re looking for a role where you can be a team player while learning new skills. Next
Stretching the truth
While most candidates won’t tell an outright lie during a job interview, its cousin, embellishment, sometimes makes an appearance.
One common embellishment is to claim a college degree that you haven’t earned. Sometimes candidates think it’s OK to do this because they’re only one or two credits away from completing the degree anyway. However, while some employers don’t make a college degree a job requirement, they certainly won’t hire you if they find out you’ve lied about one.
Other times candidates will inflate their responsibilities at their previous jobs. As you may know, if the interview goes well, the employer will follow up with background or fact-checking to verify the statements you gave and any false information you provided will likely be uncovered.
Most employers are adept at doing “backdoor” reference checks, where they check their network to find references who’ve worked with you or at the same company. These backdoor references are good ways to discover the truth about past responsibilities, performance and the reason for your exit.
Candidates who are overly vague or don’t give specific answers to questions can frustrate interviewers and sometimes even create suspicion. Next
Not having the right attitude
Research suggests that 70 to 80 percent of the meaning in a message is communicated nonverbally.
The way you look and behave, including your attitude, can help you impress and influence others.
Job candidates should avoid appearing desperate or the opposite – arrogant or disinterested.
Your attitude is communicated through facial expression, eye contact, hand gestures, posture and overall body language.
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