As with everything in life, it can be very helpful to know NOT what to do just as much as what to do! If you’re new to job hunting, you’ve probably been reading about how to act during a job interview. You should also be studying how not to act.
If there’s a common complaint among many hiring agents and human resources professionals, it’s how many of today’s generation of job hunters show up for job interviews unprepared or come with a sense of entitlement. While confidence is never a bad thing, it’s not always a good idea to show up to a job interview with the wrong attitude.
1. Show up unprepared: Most candidates have several days to prepare for a job interview. This is plenty of time to freshen up your resume and references, and learn everything you can about the company and job for which you’re applying. Knowing the business and its major players is great way to give you the edge over other candidates.
2. Pay little attention to your appearance: Think your appearance doesn’t count? Think again! The trend may be for business casual, but it’s still proper business etiquette to wear a suit. When it comes to the job interview, it’s all about the first impression. The company wants to hire the best person to represent the business, mohawked and hardwared individuals usually don’t fit the description.
3. Have nothing to say: It’s frustrating to an interviewer to receive one syllable answers. Go into detail. Sell yourself.
4. Say too much: Give your interviewer time to talk. By monopolizing the conversation and not letting others get a word in edgewise, you’re showing yourself to be a poor listener and disrespectful to higher ups.
5. Give a sob story: No one cares how deep in debt you are. If you give your interviewers the impression you’re irresponsible or your problems are a distraction, you won’t get the job.
6. Tell jokes: A job interview isn’t the time or place to be a comedian. You need to show you’re serious about the job.
7. Lie: Don’t lie about education, qualifications, past employment or a prison record. These are all things that businesses look into nowadays. Lying during a job interview can also be grounds for dismissal later on.
8. Trash a former employer: This is one of the biggest mistakes made during interviews. When asked why they’re seeking new employment many candidates will complain about a past employer. Why would anyone want to hire a malcontent?
9. Blame problems on co-workers: If there was an incident at a past place of employment, own up to it as honestly as possible. Casting the blame on other people only makes you look worse.
10. Act too familiar with your interviewers: Don’t call your interviewers Bob and Suzy (even if it is their names). Unless invited to do otherwise, address them as Mr. Ms, Dr or another respectful title.
11. Give too many personal details: Do you think an employer would want to hire you if he finds out you like to go out and party every night or you’re getting over a drug problem? Your personal life has nothing to do with your job. Don’t divulge unnecessary details.
12. Fidget, bite your nails, drum your fingers or show nervousness: Employers are looking for confidence, especially if you’re expected to meet with clients or give presentations.
13. Chew gum: No one wants to listen to the equivalent of a cow chewing its cud.
14. Bring your breakfast, lunch or dinner: Not only is it impolite to bring a meal to the job interview, it’s the best way not to get the job. Your interviewer doesn’t want to watch you eat, nor does she want to wait until you’re finished chewing to learn the answer to her questions.
15. Be disrespectful: Even if you don’t agree, it’s best to hold your tongue. No business wants to hire someone who is disrespectful to others.
16. Turn in a messy application: If you’re asked to fill out an application, do so in a neat, tidy manner, filling in as many of the sections as possible.
17. Bring only one copy of your resume: You may have several people interviewing you. Bring several copies of resumes and other pertinent information. It’ll show you’re someone who comes prepared.
18. Sit before you’re offered a chair: Wait to be invited before sitting. You may not even be staying in that room.
19. Smoke or drink alcohol: If you’re at a lunch interview, refrain from smoking and drinking, even if invited to do so. The interviewer may be testing you. Some businesses frown upon smokers because they spend a lot of time outside and no one wants to hire someone who indulges in cocktails during his or her lunch hour.
20. Talk on your cell phone or read text messages: To not turn your cell phone or pager off for an interview is just plain rude. Your interviewer should have your complete attention. 21. Show up late: Being tardy for a job interview tells your potential bosses, you really don’t care enough to make an effort. If you have an emergency such as being caught behind a traffic accident or a subway stalling, call ahead. 22. Discuss money, time off or benefits unless an offer has been made: Though this is probably what you’re thinking about the most, you want to the potential employer to think it’s the least of your concerns. The job should be on your mind first and foremost, not the pay or vacation time.
23. Ask no questions: Your potential employer wants to know you’re interested in the job. If you don’t ask any questions, you give the impression you don’t care.
24. Bring your cute little dog on the interview: Pets don’t belong at interviews. They’re distracting and present the potential for disaster.
25. Brush hair, file nails, put on lipstick: Primp before the interview, not during.
26. Cut short the interview for another appointment: Your potential employer doesn’t expect to be your only job interview but he does expect you to block out enough time to give a complete interview. Leaving to go to another appointment is rude and tells the employer he’s not a priority.
27. Hit on the receptionist or pass your phone number to a cute guy: If you give the impression you’re more interested in dating than working you won’t get the gig.
28. Get too comfortable: Don’t put your feet up, put your arms behind your head, cross your legs or stretch them out in the aisle. A job interview isn’t the place to let your hair down.
29. Give vague answers: Don’t tap dance around issues. Answer questions to the best of your ability. If you can’t answer a straight forward question, this employer might wonder what you have to hide.
30. Use foul language: It should go without saying that foul language isn’t appropriate at an interview let alone a place of business.
31. Act as if they need you more than you need them: You’re not the only candidate. If you act smug or make the hiring agent feel inferior you won’t get the job.
32. Excuse yourself often to use the bathroom or phone: If you can’t attend the interview uninterrupted how will you do the job?
33. Forget to shake hands: A potential employer is looking for a good, firm handshake. Don’t overlook this important detail as it says a lot about your character.
34. Fail to follow up: Always follow up on the interview within a few days. It will show the employer you want the job, and also that you practice good business sense.
35. Fail to send a thank you note: It’s polite and makes a good impression.