You Did What In The Interview?

Posted: 12/11/2013

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

Photo Credit: Nadine Muller

Here are a few easily avoidable, yet common mistakes I see and hear of in interviews. Bottom line, don't let the employer count you out for any reason other than your experience!!

1. Bad mouthing former employers. Big no-no and probably the most common interviewing mistake I see!! If you ridicule / bash / slam your former company or manager, what's the next hiring manager going to think you'll do to him or her and their company? If you left because the environment was terrible, you can always you left to pursue other opportunities.

2. Asking silly questions. There are things that are important to ask / discuss that will help you decide if you want the job: salary, bonuses, job responsibilities, etc. There are other things that are extraneous and asking about them can make you seem nitpicky or worse, like a pain in the rear. Examples could be parking reimbursement, education reimbursement, casual Fridays, etc. The ONLY reason you should bring these up is if the issue is a deal breaker. Are you really going to turn down a job because the employer doesn't have casual Fridays? If so, ask. If not, don't ask until you get the job and then consider it a nice perk if the company does.

3. Looking unprofessional. This should be obvious, but people still show up for interviews smelling like an ashtray, wearing white socks with dress shoes, in jeans, etc.

4. Acting disinterested. Why are you even in the interview if you're not interested? Even if the job starts to sound terrible, at least pretend to be interested. You can always turn down an offer later. What you can't do is make that hiring manager ever want to meet with you again if you act bored. I've seen people put their heads down on the table during an interview. Not a great idea. To expand on this a little, you also don't want a hiring manager to never want to interview you for anything - maybe this job isn't for you, but what about in the future? I know some hiring managers who keep spreadsheets of every candidate they have ever interviewed and they take it with them from job to job.

5. Being TOO honest. Sure, everyone says to answer questions truthfully. But if it presents you in a bad light, avoid it! I have had a candidate tell me that when the job got a little tedious, she would just put her head down and fall asleep on her desk.

6. Showing up late. Unless you have a really good excuse, this can be a killer. Traffic was bad? Well, you're going to have to navigate traffic to get to work if you get the job, aren't you? Got lost? That just shows a lack of planning on your part. Nothing starts an interview off on the wrong foot quite as badly as a late start.

7. Sharing too much personal information. The employer shouldn't be asking about your religion, marital status, etc., because it's illegal to discriminate based on many of those factors. If you bring it up, you open the door to having that information taken into account when the employer makes a decision about hiring you. If the employer asks about what you do in your spare time, keep it simple and related to generic activities - exercise, reading, keeping up with trade journals, volunteer work, etc. Don't bring up family, religion or anything of that nature.

As always, use common sense! Make good eye contact, be prepared (research the company, prepare some good questions), don't pick your nose or your teeth (yes, I have seen both), don't curse (yep, that too) and try to answer the interviewer's questions directly and succinctly and you'll be fine.