Top 10 Cringeworthy Things Not to Do on Interviews—Ever

By Ed Woodward| February 8, 2018

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When you walk into that interview room, remember that hiring managers meet more people in a day than most people do in a month.

They’ve seen it all–the good, the bad and the ugly. There are more than a few things that will make the hiring manager cringe. Don’t let that be you.

The first step, of course, is to explore some of the most common faux pas hiring managers see so that you can steer clear and present your most amazing self.

Here’s the top 10 cringeworthy things you should never do on interviews:

Not-Know-When-to-Stop-Talking-on-an-Interview

 

1. Not know when to stop talking

Talking over your interviewer is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make. Nerves can get the best of you, but nervous chatter comes across as rude. It may also suggest to your interviewer that you don’t engage in active listening.

Any hiring manager is going to see that as a problem. No one likes that person who’s always trying to talk his or her way into the right answer. That’s not the way to win them over. Pause after you answer a question. Wait for them to begin again.

You don’t have to fill the silence with chatter. They won’t hear you after awhile.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, listen carefully, and watch for subtle clues (that it’s time to wrap up) like your interviewer’s body language.

2. Bad-mouthing

This faux pas might seem obvious, but no hiring manager wants to hear you put down your current or former employer, advisor, mentor, etc.

When you are asked why you left a former position (if applicable), griping and gossiping will definitely make them cringe.

Instead, be prepared with a tactful explanation. Come from a place of responsibility, not blame. Talk about how you want to take on more challenges, not say you were bored in your last job. Say “I want to take what I learned and expand it in this position.” not “They stifled my creativity.” Otherwise, you’re just telling the hiring manager that you’re not mature enough for the workplace.

Underdress-or-Look-Sloppy-is-Cringeworthy-on-an-Interview

 

3. Underdress or Look Sloppy

Wear professional clothing, unless the job calls for the hoodie look. For women, skirts that are extremely short or tight, tops that are very low cut, jeans, shorts or sneakers won’t cut it. For men, no dirty jeans, shorts, ACDC T-shirts, wrinkled shirts and definitely no flip-flops. Yes, this happens. Wash and comb your hair. Unwashed, messy hair/beard is a cringeworthy no-no. Leave the beanie hat home.

4. Not acknowledge and own your mistakes

Mistakes will be made. It’s just a fact of life. But the real challenge in making mistakes and taking missteps is when you don’t own up to them. Whether you were late to the interview or forgot to bring your resume, you need to acknowledge it and take responsibility for your actions. You can’t simply act like these things never happened. And really, don’t be late. Ever.

If you are late say “I was unavoidably delayed, please let’s get started.” This shows respect for their time.

Forgot your resume? “The dog ate…” NO, just kidding. Don’t explain, simply say “I left my resume behind, I will make sure it’s on your desk this afternoon.” This shows you know how to correct a mistake promptly.

via GIPHY

5. Trying too hard or bragging excessively

You want a job that suits you, so don’t let them hire some other person you’re pretending to be. The company wants you to be your most authentic self, so just relax. If you’re in the room, they are already interested in learning more about you – the real you.

While confidence is key to impressing a manager during your internship interview, be sure to leave that supersized ego at the door. Hiring managers can sense when a person has empathy (a most desired trait of any potential candidate, not to mention human being) or is overly self-involved.

Check out our article on 9 Things Companies Wish Their Interns Knew Before Starting

6. Asking about vacation time

You are on an interview! This is not the time to discuss sick days, days off or vacations. Just don’t even ask until you’re hired.

7. Leave your phone on

Turn it off, not even on vibrate. This is a hard one, but nothing makes people cringe more than a buzz, ding or ring during the interview. Looking at your texts will be the end of that job offer.

8. Curse

Don’t use curse words or slang. Speak professionally. This is not the bar scene.

Never-Yawn-or-Look-Bored-on-An-Interview

 

9. Yawn, look bored, disinterested or tired

Yawning, slouching, lack of eye contact amounts to “I’m not interested in this job.”

Be alert, look them in the eye and being interested works a lot better. Body language is a way of talking too. Ladies, don’t twirl your hair. Gentlemen, don’t stroke your beard. Hiring managers are well trained in this art. 

10. Be rude or forget your manners

Being polite and remembering basic manners will always get you far, both in the interview process and in life. A nice, firm handshake with eye contact can set the tone of the interview. It also tells the hiring manager right off the bat that you’re taking the process seriously and are already engaged. Interview-etiquette is everything and will ultimately leave the greatest impression.

Things you should do:

  • Send a hand-written note of thanks after the interview. Not too many people do this, and it makes you stand out.
  • Hiring managers want to know within seconds of meeting you that you are serious about getting the position. They want you to be well-mannered, self-aware and engaged with the process.
  • It’s important to them to know you are interested in the position, and have done your homework on the job and on the company. They like team players with a positive attitude.

Just thinking about an internship interview can be a total nerve wrecker, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. Be prepared, practice with an advisor or trusted friends. Practicing goes a long way to feeling confident when you get there. When you get it right, it can also be a great experience for you.

So steer clear of these top 10 cringe-worthy interview faux pas, remember to be yourself, and you’ll feel confident that you did all that you could to make a positive and lasting impression.

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