Today I challenged myself to list at least 10 things candidates do to ruin a job interview. I got out my pencil and started making notes. Before I knew it I came up with 20 things!
Have you ever done any of these things? Be honest.
- Not prepared – Don’t know anything about the company – didn’t do research
- Dressed improperly (however the company defines that)
- Arrive late or too early. Surprising enough it can be very annoying to hiring managers to arrive too early. Waiting in the outside office only reminds the hiring manager that he or she is under too much pressure. You can and should arrive at the building at least 15 to 30 minutes before your interview but don’t go into the office or see the receptionist until 5 to 10 minutes before the interview.
- Be sure you know what you want to say. Have any handouts neatly organized and accessible. Once I went to an interview with a handout in my briefcase but at the appropriate moment that sheet of paper blended in with the other papers. I fumbled around to find it but the moment was gone. I just looked disorganized.
- Chew gum.
- Swear. This should be obvious but evidently it still happens. Don’t do it. Enough said.
- Too casual or too formal. Adjust your presentation and responses to the environment. If they are formal, you are formal. If they are casual you should be a little more formal but don’t be a stick in the mud.
- Fail to ask questions or ask lame questions. Think about this in advance and have a pre-printed list of questions that show your research about issues that are important to the company or the hiring manager.
- Oversell or come on too strong. Hard to believe but it is possible to come on too strong. Be aware of the impression you leave.
- Bring a Starbucks coffee to the meeting. It happens but it shouldn’t.
- Touch your face or hair – distracting. Stop playing with your hair or cleaning your ears or picking at your fingers. Yuck.
- Come with wet hair. We should not have to say this.
- Bad breath. Pop a breath mint before entering the building. Better idea, avoid garlic before a big interview.
- Don’t know what you want. This is an interview killer. No one can help you if you don’t help yourself. At least start by knowing what you want.
- Not creative when asked what websites and publications your read. If someone asks you what you read, site websites and publications related to your industry, profession or personal interests. Choose something that shows you think.
- Ask what the hours are. The right answer is “however long it takes to get the job done”. Asking about the hours implies you are not interested in working hard.
- Long cover letters. No one reads them anyway. Be short and get directly to the point. You don’t want the hiring manager to infer that you are boring.
- Talk bad about other people, candidates or companies. This should be obvious but it happens.
- Say your goal is something other than the job you apply for. This is an interview ender.
- Haven’t looked at company website. You would be shocked at how many people think they are prepared for an interview but have not even glanced at the website.
And the bonus way to mess up an interview:
- Ask too many questions about moving up. You are interviewing for THIS job. It is nice to be interested in development and growth but focus your attention on the job at hand. Land that one and we can talk about promotion.
Pay attention. Learn from others’ mistakes. Have a great job interview!