What Not to Do on an Interview

What NOT to DO at Your Interview

Seriously, it will cost you

Ever wonder what NOT to do at an interview? I’ll bet you already know the answer,….right? Well, after conducting thousands of interviews in my career,  I’m still surprised that people still make common mistakes. And these mistakes can sabotage any chance of landing the position.

So, humor me while I present this brief reminder of….simple, yet….often forgotten mistakes….so you won’t be one of the many who make them!

Starting simply..

Dress – Let’s start by saying that even if you are applying for a position in a grocery store where you’ll wear jeans to work every day, do NOT wear jeans to the interview. And, please don’t wear super short skirts, tee-shirts, wrinkled dress shirts, wrinkled slacks, sneakers, flip flops, or sandals. Trust me, you’d be surprised at the clothing choices people make.

I remember a candidate interviewing for an 85k per year position, and he showed up in ripped jeans. Okay I get it that the position was a field position. He would never be in an office, always outdoors. It’s okay to wear jeans in that situation…just make sure they’re not ripped.

When you think no one’s watching…

The lobby – If your waiting to be called in for your interview, don’t think that no one is watching. I walked by a young candidate on my way from a corporate office to the conference/interview room.  This young man looked like he was hungover from a bachelor party or something.

His arms slung down to the floor as he tapped his fingers on the leg of an end table. And his body screamed lazy. He blew his chance at getting the job before he walked in the room.

Leave it in the car…

Beverages – Please, don’t bring a super –size coffee that you picked up from the gas station on your way to the interview. No interviewer wants your super-sized cup sitting on his/her desk while you interview. Nor do they want you slurping down a drink from a cup that hides your face in between questions. Really, this happens. And not just once in a while, it is happening more and more often.

Practice the basics

Place – Remember your place. You’re the candidate. You do NOT have the job yet. Don’t ask questions about salary, vacation, or benefits….at least not yet. The first round of interviewing isn’t the right time.

You’ll have time to learn about those things. For now, ask questions that make you appear interested in the position. Things like, “what is the most important quality you are looking for in a candidate? “ Or “if you hire me tomorrow, what would you want me to accomplish first?”

A skill they’re looking for…

Listen – Interviewers are asking questions for a reason. You need to listen to the question. Don’t answer before they finish the question and don’t answer something they didn’t ask. Answer the question that they ask, answer it completely, provide an example if you can, and then shut up. You do not have to keep speaking if you have nothing more to say.  Listening is a skill, and it’s often a skill that a potential employer is looking for.

And, of course….

Show-time – An interview is not an audition.  There was a candidate a few months back who was applying for VP level position. The interview team consisted of 6 individual members of the company’s senior management team and me.

The candidate walked into the conference room confidently. I think his goal was to appear confident. But, what he did was walk up to a white board and start making a list of his attributes. He said having them on the board would “help you all stay focused on my attributes as we progress with this interview.”  Needless to say, he irritated everyone in the room and he blew his chances for getting the job within four seconds.  Senior managers usually do not need assistance staying on topic for interviews. They have it figured out. Don’t be presumptuous.

Embellishing is lying….

Lies – Don’t lie at an interview. You’ll get burned. Don’t say you are currently making 70k if you are in fact only making 55k. Don’t say you left your position because the commute was too far when you really left because you couldn’t get along with your co-workers. Whatever the truth may be, it is better than a lie. If you were let go, admit it. Tell the interviewer the truth; tell them what you learned from the incident and how you have grown. If you lie, you will get caught. If it isn’t on the first day, it will come out eventually. Tell the truth on your resume, at the interview, always.

No Worries

You know you rock…don’t let a silly mistake keep you getting the chance to prove it! You’ve got this!

Cynthia Corsetti is an Executive and Career Coach. Whether you’re looking for a career transition or to make a bigger impact in your current career, Cynthia is the partner you’re looking for. Follow her on FacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube.


Share your thoughts: