Interviews can be nerve-racking. And to help job seekers ease their stress, plenty of sites, (including ours), offer tons of advice and/or interview tips on how to be best prepared for the big meeting.
While it’s extremely important to know what you should do on an interview, it’s equally as important to know what you shouldn’t. Without this knowledge, a well-intentioned job seeker could wind up making an interview-ending blunder without being aware of their infraction.
Here are six things to keep in mind and avoid when interviewing with a new potential employer:
Taking control of the conversation
As much as the hiring manager wants to hear from you, let them lead the dialogue. You should have plenty of questions, but you should be patient and strategic when choosing your openings to ask. Also, let your personality shine, whether through courteousness and/or enthusiasm. Just remember to keep any jokes or off-topic discussions to a minimum. Your goal should be to use the limited time you to ensure you’re selling yourself as the best possible fit for the role at hand.
Forgetting to utilize the 3 “I’s”
Inquire: As stated earlier, come prepared with questions. Three to four about the position and/or company are a safe bet.
Interest: Positive body language is key to conveying your interest in the role. To be sure you’re sending the right signals, lead with a strong handshake, sit up straight, and maintain strong eye contact throughout the duration of the interview
Intellect: You’re applying for a specific position with a specific company. Some advice: know both. A qualified, prepared professional should have some background information about the company and the position.
Resorting to clichés
The worst thing you can do in an interview is come in and act like a caricature of what you think the hiring manager wants to see. Instead, you want to come across as a genuine individual. Avoiding clichés such as, “I’m a workaholic” or “My biggest weakness is I care too much”, is the best route for accomplishing this.
Treating it as a question-and-answer session
The key to a successful interview is having an easy flowing conversation. Simply uttering ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to every question makes for a dull, unmemorable exchange. You want to leave a lasting impression with the interviewer so you stay top of mind when they are making their hiring decision. This doesn’t mean droning on with 5-minute answers for every question. Elaborate all answers with a concise, direct response.
Arriving too early
It goes without saying that showing up late to an interview is an absolute deal breaker. On the other end of the spectrum, showing up too early can be just as bad. To be respectful of the hiring manager’s time, you should ideally be at the requested location no earlier than 15 minutes prior to the interview. If you arrive earlier, stop and grab a coffee and check your materials (i.e., your resume, portfolio, etc.) to compose yourself and establish the right mindset for the upcoming exchange.
Bad-mouthing past employers
Tumultuous relationships can develop between past employees and their superiors across workplaces. However, using your interview to sound off on a former employer in an attempt to make yourself look superior is an absolute no-no. If you are asked why you’ve decided to look for new opportunities or left your last job, there are more amicable way to answer this question