Today’s the day! You finally have a job interview. When you wake up, you start to go through your mental checklist of things you need to remember to do: iron your pants, triple-check your resume, glance over the route to the location, practice your answers to your interview questions...
What you may have forgotten is to think about the things you shouldn’t do when you’re interviewing for a job you want. Even if you are nervous, your main goal is to make a good impression on your hiring manager. To avoid ruining your chance of landing the job, read the 12 things you should never do in a job interview.
1. Arrive late (or too early)
Showing up late for a job interview can set the wrong tone for the rest of the meeting. It gives the impression that you might also be late to work and important meetings if you were to receive a job offer. If you are running late due to an unforeseen circumstance, you should communicate with your hiring manager, so they know that your tardiness isn’t habitual.
On the other hand, arriving way too early can throw off your interviewer, who likely isn’t ready to meet with you yet. He or she may feel rushed or frantic, which could lead to having a bad impression of you. You should aim to arrive around 10-15 minutes early so you can get acquainted with the place and check in with reception if you need to.
2. Show up empty handed
Even if you’re sure your interviewer already has a copy of your resume, it’s common courtesy to bring a few extras, just in case. If your interviewer or interviewing panel has their own, you can reference the resume in case you get nervous and suddenly forget your entire work history.
Depending on the job, you may also want to bring a relevant sample of your work, professional recommendations for the job position, or a pen and notepad for taking notes. Traditionally, you would bring all of these recommended materials in a briefcase or binder.
3. Disregard people who aren’t your interviewer
Your interview is with the person in a suit who asks you questions, right? Actually, your interview can potentially be from the time you arrive at the place of business to the time you exit the parking lot. Before you enter the meeting, you’ll likely have to speak to people who aren’t your interviewer, such as a receptionist, human resources representative, or other current employees.
There’s a good chance that some or all of these people will report back on your demeanor and attitude when interacting with them. Even after your interview, employees could be watching to see how you handle rejection or if you gloat when you get the job. Try not to act in a way that will hurt your chances at getting the job, and keep your behavior professional with everyone you meet. These could be your future coworkers.
4. Exhibit poor body language
It’s normal to be nervous for an interview; however, you never want to make the interviewer feel that you don’t care about the job or internship. He or she may think you have somewhere more important to be because you have poor eye contact and body language.
You want to show that you’re paying attention and engaged. Slouching in your chair, crossing your arms, tapping your fingers, or twirling your hair does not communicate that. Try to maintain eye contact and a comfortable posture, this will help you seem more confident and will convey that you’re interested in your interview.
5. Dress improperly
You’ve probably heard the saying, “dress for the job you want.” However, it’s often a good idea to go a step beyond that. As usual, don’t dress inappropriately or wear anything revealing, but do try to dress a level up from what employees wear. For example, if you know the office attire is considered casual, wear something that’s business casual.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what the dress code of a company is until you get there. In that case, make an educated guess. Business casual or business professional dress will almost always be a safe bet. Your ability to dress to impress could help show recruiters that you care and deserve the job.
6. Check your phone
One of the fastest ways for an interviewer to put your resume in the bottom of the pile is if you appear more interested in what’s on your cell phone than what he or she is saying. It is common business etiquette to turn off your phone during an interview, so checking your notifications when you should be engaging in conversation shows that you are uninterested and bored with your surroundings.
There is probably no one who is more important to talk to than your interviewer at that moment, unless it's an emergency. In the cases where an emergency occurs, they will hopefully understand. However, being respectful to your interviewer should be your priority over checking new likes on your social media posts.
7. Bash your former employer
It’s common for an interviewer to ask you about your job history. Your most recent job may have been a terrible work environment, but it’s not a good idea to rant about how much you hated it and everyone there. This can reflect negatively on you and your attitude.
Even if you did end on bad terms with your previous employer, it is best to find a polite way to express your honest feelings. For example, instead of saying “My boss never scheduled me to have any time off, and I hated my coworkers”, say “I found that I didn’t have an optimal work-life balance at my previous place of employment, and I am looking to build meaningful connections with new coworkers, which I have found are both important to me.”
8. Lie about your achievements
During the job search process, some people will try anything to be hired. This includes lying about their awards and achievements on their resume or during interview questions. These people may assume that there were too many applicants for the interview committee to fact-check each resume. Most employers do closely evaluate candidates or check over their social media accounts, so it’s important to present yourself in an accurate way when job hunting.
Although the people who lie may not get caught during the interview, their tall tales will begin to catch up to them when they can’t perform the task they won an award for last year. The truth always comes out, so it's best to be as honest about your experience upfront.
9. Ramble without direction
Some people think that the longer their interview is, the better chance they have at being offered a position. Therefore, these people will try to drag out their stories and make their interview last a long time. Although complete answers are good, there is a fine line between thorough and rambling.
Try to answer the question in the most complete and concise way possible. That way the interviewer knows that you understand the question and that you aren’t trying to evade the answer by getting everyone off track. If your story is lengthy, make sure that it’s appropriate and relevant to the question.
10. Know nothing about the company
You will most likely be asked some form of interview question that relates to the company you are interviewing with. Which means that you need to come prepared and do your research before your interview. This is meant to separate the people who applied for the first position they found when they searched summer jobs in college from the people who are actually passionate about the particular company.
A good idea would be to browse the company’s website and social media pages. If you’re not asked a question about the company, make sure you bring it up. Find a way to tie in what you know while answering a different question or explaining why you want to work there.
11. Have zero questions
One of the top job interview tips is to ask questions. Asking thoughtful questions is the best way to demonstrate your interest to your employer. It shows you’re not afraid to speak up when you want more information on a subject. Plus, not many companies want to hire someone who cannot communicate well.
If you don’t know what to ask, the following are easy questions to inquire about whether you’re applying for an internship or a permanent position at the company. What comes next in the interview process? What qualities are the most important for employees to possess in order to do well and advance in this company? What does a typical day look like? How is the work environment? Do you have any hesitations about hiring me?
12. Forget to follow-up
Whether you are offered the job on the spot or the company needs a little more deliberation, you should follow up with a thank you note. It is usually best to send a thank you card or email within 24 hours of the interview.
This shows that you are appreciative of the time they took to interview you and may put you above the other candidates. Just make sure that you sound genuine in your note and reference something unique that happened in your interview, such as your common love for your pet turtles.
If you think about all the things you shouldn’t do in an interview, they really boil down to just being polite. If you try to be kind and genuine, the employer will recognize that and want you on their team. Although sometimes nerves can make it hard to be at ease, you can still try to make a good impression on your hiring manager.
After you realize you only need good etiquette, you are free to focus on the things you should do in an interview, such as giving a firm handshake and making eye contact. With these tips in mind, you will be on your way to joining the company of your dreams. Good luck!
📃Think your resume is perfect? Check out 7 Major Resume Mistakes You Might Be Making Right Now.
💼To prepare yourself better for your job interview, check out How to Present Yourself Online When Job-Hunting.