Recently we discussed what you should do during an interview to enhance your chances of success. But just as important as what you should do is knowing what you should never do, unless you want to instantly destroy your chances of getting hired.
1. Don’t Be Late!
Unless all the roads have been closed due to the outbreak of war or a rampaging Godzilla-like lizard monster, you really have no excuse to be late to your interview. Every job interview is potentially the first step in a new career – don’t make the people you want to work with think you can’t arrive on time! Plan your route in advance, taking note of potential delays, and leave more than enough time to get there.
2. Don’t Criticize Past Employers
Even if you have legitimate grievances against a former boss or colleague, this is not the time to air them. Sometimes in smaller industries where people know one another past employers might get brought up. Try not to join in on bad mouthing either. Negativity, even when in tandem with your interviewer, is still negativity.
Focusing on bad aspects of your old job makes you seem like a negative person and can make interviewers wonder “gee, how will they talk about our company?” If asked why you left a previous job discuss your career development rather than faults in your last workplace.
3. Don’t Eat, Chew Gum, or Drink Soda
The interview room is not a snack bar. Do not eat, as you will seem unprofessional, and definitely do not chew gum – that goes beyond unprofessional and makes you seem like a jerk! If you are concerned about how your breath smells after your morning coffee, pop a mint on your way in, but make sure you are done by the time the interview starts.
Sometimes you might be offered refreshment, and you can politely accept, but stick with water. Some interviews require a lot of talking on your part, and staying hydrated and keeping your mouth from getting too dry is just fine.
4. Don’t Um and Ah
Avoid ‘ums’, ‘ahs’, and other filler words as much as possible. If you are not quite sure of your next word, simply take a pause to think. If you need to, clarify the question with the interviewer to give yourself time to think.
In fact, a thoughtful pause might make the interviewer have the impression that you are really taking a moment to consider the question they are asking instead of just immediately rambling on with the first thing that pops into your head.
No one expects you to answer straight away, so gather your thoughts then answer the question ask directly. There’s nothing worse that waffling on for five minutes without even giving a relevant answer.
5. Don’t Give Generic Answers
Your answers to interview questions should be unique – no one else but you should be able to give them because they should include stories, details, and accomplishments for your life. Anyone can rattle off a list of positive sounding traits, but you need to show them how you will be good for the role with evidence and examples.
For example, the question, “What makes you a good team player?” Shouldn’t just be answered with, “Well, I work good with others, I have a positive attitude, and I am a hard worker.” You should answer with a story about a project that you worked on with a team, and the way you contributed to that team to successfully complete it.
6. Don’t Dress Inappropriately
Find out the company’s dress code before the interview and match it, whether it is formal, neat casual, or laid back. If you are not sure and can’t find out what the dress code is, business casual is always a good idea. Slacks, a button down shirt or polo, nice shoes, and well groomed hair and face will always make a good impression. In today’s culture, it is likely this kind of outfit will work well for men or women.
7. Don’t Say You Have No Questions
Anytime you are asked if you have any questions, ask a question! During your interview preparation compile a list of questions you have about the company and the role. A couple of good fallback questions are “Why did you choose to work here?” or “What excites you most about the company’s future?” Your questions will indicate that you’ve thought more about what this job might be like or what you’re looking for in a job than just getting one for the paycheck. You can indicate more of what you’ll bring to the table. You also need to avoid certain questions (see below).
Questions to Avoid in an Interview
While it’s really important to ask questions during an interview, not all questions are equal! Here are a few to avoid or re-frame:
- “So, what are the hours around here?” – you want work-life balance, of course, but at this stage you should project interest in the role and passion for the industry, not concern over when you get to knock off. If you are truly concerned about the work day, you can ask questions like, “What time should I be here in the morning?” or “What is close of business?” It sounds more professional, and like you are asking about when you get to work instead of when you have to work.
- “So, how soon will I be running the place?” – it’s great to show that you’re interested in career growth, but don’t be too aggressive about it. Remember, you’re interviewing for this job not the next one. Especially since the person interviewing you is likely a few ladder steps down from running the place… or if they do run the place they likely aren’t keen to be interviewing their future replacement.
- “Why did you ask me to the interview?” – don’t ask questions that indicate uncertainty about your own worth. Even if you can’t believe you landed an interview with your dream company, keep it on the down low. Your job is to show them how great you are, not ask for validation.
- “Can I surf the web/tweet/Facebook at work?” – never ask question that make it seem like you’re already planning to slack off. Just like asking about hours in a fashion that makes it seem like you’re not a hard worker, you don’t want to ask about things in a way that seems like you’ll do them if you won’t get in trouble for it. You’ll find out about a workplace’s culture if you get the job, but you don’t want it to seem like a priority (even if it is).
8. Don’t Forget Your Resume
Just because you’ve already electronically sent in your resume or folio, you should not think you can leave it at home. You may not need your resume at all, but always have at least one for each interviewer on hand. If appropriate, you should also have a neat folio of past work to show. Forgetting these basics can create a really bad impression, like you aren’t ready for all possible scenarios. Being completely prepared for an interview shows whether or not you will be completely prepared at work.
9. Don’t Be Blase
Don’t try to play it cool in an interview, be excited! No one wants to work with someone they think considers the job beneath them. You should be upbeat and very alert and interested in everything the interviewer is saying about the potential position. Recruiters want to hire people who are enthusiastic about their company and the role – let them see how much you want to work with them.
10. Don’t Focus on Salary
Of course you want to be paid well – everyone does! But the interview is not the time to get hung up on this detail. You should have a ballpark salary in mind should you be asked what you’re expecting or hoping for, but don’t keep bringing it up. In fact, don’t talk about money at all unless asked – the interview is about showing them why you’re right for the job, not a bargaining table. You’ll have time to negotiate once you are offered the position.
A part of being prepared for an interview is going in knowing you have the right skills for the position. Many entry level jobs ask for experience in the industry, but it’s really hard to get experience if all the entry level jobs need experience. One way to show you have the experience and skills is to have a certification. Certifications are out there for many different industries, including business administration, the healthcare industry, and the IT industry. You don’t always need a four year degree to know you can succeed in a position.
Interview Help and More from CCI
CCI Training Center is here to give you the knowledge to obtain those certifications. Not only will be prepare you for the certifications you need for the job you are seeking, but we also provide all our students with resume building, interview preparation and on the job help. If you’re ready to get started, contact CCI Training Center today to learn more.