There are some things you just shouldn’t do during a job interview.
Some are obvious, some not so much. Last week, we talked a little bit about personal branding and ways to make yourself stand out in a line of applicants. This week we’re going to talk about ways to make sure you don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. There are a ton of websites and blogs out there dedicated to giving job hunters the interview tips they need to impress during this crucial stage. Everything from how to dress, what to say and when to show up is usually covered. However, what is often overlooked (and in many ways far more important) is to know precisely what NOT to do when you get your shot to prove that you’re the right person for the job. Here’s a list of definite “dont’s”.
1. Don’t be late
This needs no explanation. DO be 15 minutes early. You’ll have time to chill before the interview, and watch the goings on in the waiting room.
2. Don’t Look Like You’ve Been Out All Night
Or that you have just traveled the Oregon Trail to get there. Both can give bad impressions of being a party animal or being disorganized. Here’s something to think about: according to Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics, 55% of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look. Look neat and clean, and they will think your work is neat and clean too. All you need to bring in is your portfolio or folder with extra copies of your resume and a pad and paper. That’s it. If you have an umbrella or overcoat or one bag with you, ask if it’s okay to store it. Leave the beverages or snacks behind (think spills, it happens), and do not be chewing gum. DO show your personal style, but do it without the stains and wrinkles.
3. Don’t Be the Avatars of Perfection or Weakness
When you are asked, “What do you think is your greatest [strength/weakness],” don’t respond like this: “Everything I do has to be like that Picasso on the wall.” An employer won’t buy that answer. Conversely, don’t list a multitude of weaknesses. They send the wrong message of either being rehearsed, possibly difficult to work with, or not qualified for the job. Employers like a well-rounded and honest candidate. DO illustrate an honest mistake or weakness, but in a way that has taught you something valuable. For example, when Raul Vasquez, the Executive Vice President of Global e-commerce at Walmart was asked what his biggest mistake was in his career, he said it was “rushing a product out the door”, and that what he ultimately learned was “it pays to be patient and do things in a planned, rolled-out fashion.”
4. Don’t Compare Your Last Boss to Miranda Priestly
“My last boss was so horrible that I went skipping and singing down the hall on my out the door. What an idiot!” It’s a very small world and getting smaller every day. You don’t know who knows who. If your last job was very challenging, be honest about it but be respectful. DO say “My last job had various demands that made for a very challenging environment. I wore many hats but am thankful for the experience I gained,”, even if what you really did was throw your cell phone into a water fountain when it was all said and done.
5. Don’t Yell “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
Terry Pile, Principle Consultant of Career Advisers said it best, “Your interest should be about the job and what your responsibilities will be. Asking about vacation, sick leave, 401K, salary and benefits should be avoided at all costs.” That can come after they offer you the job. However, sometimes there might be a case where an interviewer asks “How much are you looking to make?” If that happens, DO answer a question with a question. “Based on my qualifications, what did you have in mind?” It works more often than not.
6. Don’t Show Your Social Media Prowess
…while you’re in the interview. Turn off all your mobile devices. You don’t want to be in conversation when “Tonight I’m Lovin’ You” starts blaring from your phone. If there’s a situation where you have to have it on (like a family emergency), mention that right at the start. DO make sure the interviewer knows they have your undivided attention.
Avoiding these mistakes can go a long way in making the difference between getting hired or not. Your personal brand is on full display during an interview and you always want to represent yourself in the best light possible. A successful interview may not guarantee a job, but it will most certainly go a long way in answering the question of when you can expect that offer for your dream job.