12 Ways To Blow Your Job Interview
The web is full of great articles about how to ace the interview. Preparation, listening, good eye contact, dressing for success and relaxing are essential elements of a successful interview. The Glassdoor Interviews & Reviews section is full of great advice.
What is never covered are the things that will definitely result in ruining your chance at the job. The obvious ones are being late, snarling at the other employees, and complaining about the coffee. Good manners are essential in the interview process.
However, it’s also worth pointing out what to avoid during an interview. By all means, don’t:
Answer Your Phone When it Rings
It’s easy to forget to turn off your cell phone. Nobody will mind if you pull it out of your pocket and turn it off after it rings. The cardinal sin here is to interrupt the interview and say, “I gotta take this one.”
Answer any Question With a Story About Your Parents
Recruiters and hiring managers are astonished by the number of parents who get involved in the hiring process. These well intentioned parents are trying to continue to make the world safe for their babies. It’s the kiss of death for prospective employees. Avoid answers like “My dad is my best friend” or “Mom is going to drop me off at work each day” or “Mom will be making my lunch.” Employment and independence are highly inter-related ideas.
This is just the first item on the list of body functions to avoid. Drooling, burping, belching, more than one cough, uncontrolled laughter, crying, laughing to yourself when no one else gets the joke are also off the list. But, if you have to do any of these things, make it good. You’ll want to laugh about it later.
Say “Remind me What you Guys do”
Part of being prepared involves remembering which interview you are at and why. The company hopes that you care enough to have prepared by reading about what they do. If you don’t know or can’t remember, this is one place where you should bluff.
Ask “Do you Mind if I Smoke?”
It’s worse than this. Any hint that you’re a smoker will be likely to disqualify you quickly. If you’re a smoker, non-smokers (particularly ex-smokers) can smell the smoke on your clothes and breath when you can’t. Get your clothes dry cleaned. Change into them at a non-smoker’s house and don’t smoke in them. Use mints. Try quitting.
Put Your Feet on The Interviewer’s Desk
Being comfortable in the interview is an important part of succeeding. The trick is knowing where the line is. If the interviewer is introduced as Mr. So and So, don’t ask “Do you mind if I call you Bob?” The right approach is to appear relaxed while being extremely attentive to details. Slouching, mumbling, slang, cursing and so on are great in your living room. But misplaced in the interview.
Ask “How Long do I Have to Keep this Job Before I get Promoted?”
Every company wants ambitious employees. Letting your interviewers know that you are interested in upward mobility signals that you are willing to stay for a while. Interviewers like that. Treating the job under consideration as a stepping stone just limits your chances. Even if you think it’s beneath you, focus on this job right now and minimize your interests in the future.
Say “I’m Only Here for a Little While. Until my Business Gets Going.”
Employers like to think that you are looking for a job that will have a life cycle they understand. Suggesting that there is something waiting for you and that this gig is a way-station is rarely appropriate
Notice How Hot the Receptionist Is
Whichever gender, the topic of the relative attractiveness of anyone you might encounter is off limits. Unless you are applying for a job as a manager at Hooters or some related nighttime hospitality organization, hotness is an off limits topic. This is surprisingly similar to the bodily functions topic. Try to maintain a separation between nature and work, at least while you’re interviewing.
Text Your Girlfriend During the Interview
Even if the kids need to be picked up (maybe even particularly if the kids need to be picked up), avoid using your smart phone at any time during the interview. You’re going to be in some interviews where the hiring manager is busy tweeting about the interview. The difference between you and the hiring manager is that he already has the job. Don’t follow his bad example.
Say “My Last Boss Fired me Because he was an Idiot.”
Everyone (really, everyone) has a story to tell about a difficult job and a difficult boss. Anyone over thirty five has been involved in downsizing. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. Still, just like you wouldn’t want to review your antidepressant intake during the interview, you want to put a good face on previous employment. Never trash anyone in the interview. They’ll think you do that all the time.
Forget to Brush Your Teeth
That green thing between your teeth will cost you the job every time. So will bad breath which can be caused by gum disease. Many people with gum disease don’t know that their breath is bad. Before you go on interviews, ask someone you trust how you look and how your breath smells.
Sadly, avoiding these pitfalls won’t guarantee you’ll get the job. But, thinking about them will give you a sense of what not to do (and therefore, what you should do). Interviews are matters of chemistry. If the person interviewing you does any of these things, reconsider whether or not you want to work there.