What NOT to do in a Job Interview
Bottom Line Summary: These common mistakes could be the reason you do not get the job. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success.
Many job hunters know it’s not easy to get an interview. Becoming an actual candidate for a job — rather than just another resume in a pile — is a big deal worth celebrating. But interviewing can be extremely nerve-wracking for even the most experienced job seeker.
To make the best possible impression, try to simply relax and focus on highlighting what makes you right for the job. And for the most successful interview, here are 12 things to avoid doing on the big day.
1. Show up late
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many people show up even just a few minutes late to an interview. Even if you’re just one minute late, it won’t go unnoticed. Arriving late to an interview gives the impression that you don’t respect the interviewer’s time and lack the ability to follow through on directions.
2. Show up too early
On the flip side, you also want to avoid showing up too early to your interview. Unless you are specifically instructed to show up early, you should arrive no more than 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time.
3. Dress Inappropriately
Your interviewer is not only evaluating your skills, they’re also judging how you will appear to customers, coworkers and other leaders. Dress codes differ greatly from company to company. If you’re unsure about what to wear, it’s okay to ask the interviewer about desired attire ahead of time. If the company’s dress code is more casual, don’t show up in your fanciest suit. Dress the part to show that you can fit in with their company culture.
4. Show up unprepared
Walking into an interview without any knowledge about the company or position is a huge no-no. Most hiring managers are easily frustrated by clueless candidates. Researching a company can be as simple as reading the “About Us” section on their website. Do some browsing and try to get an understanding of the company’s mission and goals.
5. Use your phone
Don’t give in to the desire to look at your cell phone. Before you head into your meeting, make sure to silence your phone or turn it off and secure it in your pocket or bag. Holding your phone or constantly looking down at it can signal to the hiring manager that you have trouble focusing or don’t want to be there.
6. Exhibit an arrogant attitude
A job interview is just as much about personality as it is about skillset. Show the interviewer that you’re happy to be there by making good eye contact, smiling and maintaining open body language (not crossing your arms or legs). Show your enthusiasm — they want to be excited about working with you and see that you care.
7. Dodge tough questions
You’ve practiced and practiced all of the most common, difficult interview questions — but getting a question that stumps you is still possible. When this happens, don’t just say “Um, I’m not sure,” and hope the interviewer moves on. Instead, take your time. Repeat the question thoughtfully before answering or ask for a quick minute to think. Gather your thoughts and you might just be able to come up with a great response.
8. Forget to ask questions
Your interviewer will surely ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”
The answer is always yes. Asking questions shows your interest and can let the interviewer know you are listening, engaged and curious about learning more. To prepare, write down a few questions before your interview and don’t forget to ask them — even if you already know the answers.
While you may be tempted to bend the truth, you should never overpromise on your abilities or outright lie in an interview. Exaggerating might make you look good in the moment, but the truth will always come out, especially if you end up getting the job.
10. Trash talk a current or previous employer
No matter how you feel about a previous job or employer, be careful not to air your grievances in an interview. Venting about your personal frustrations with former coworkers or supervisors is a guaranteed way to not get the job. Instead, keep a positive tone and focus on showcasing your skills and abilities.
11. Ask about salary too early
As a rule of thumb, let the interviewer be the one to bring up the salary topic. If you approach the subject of money too early, it may seem like you’re more interested in knowing how much you’ll get paid rather than learning more about the role.
Similarly, it’s not a good idea to ask about other benefits, such as vacation time, right away. It’s nice to know what’s in it for you, but your initial interview should focus on what you can do for the company. If they decide to hire you, making you happy will be a priority — but it’s too early to break out your list of demands.
12. Forget your resume
You likely sent your resume in as part of your application, but don’t assume your interviewer will have it handy. Print and bring several copies to hand out during the interview in case you end up meeting with multiple people. You should also bring a pen, notepad and list of references to illustrate preparedness and organization.
When you’ve been invited for an interview, it’s important to make a positive impression. Follow these tips to avoid common interview mistakes, appear professional and get one step closer to securing your dream job.