While candidates now hold more power than ever in the job-search process, there are still certain things that can lead a hiring manager to write you off immediately. We all know to dress appropriately, and shake hands. But as you go into your next job interview, be sure to avoid these Seven Deadly Sins of Interviewing that could cause your candidacy to go cold.
1. Bringing up salary too soon. What if a car salesman asked how much money you had in the bank before showing you cars on the lot? That would be crazy, right? You’d walk away and think they were rude. It’s a similar situation when a job seeker asks about salary, benefits, or perks before they have a job offer. The two times it’s okay to talk about money are at the very beginning of the process to know it’s a job that’s in your financial realm, and when a company is making you an offer. Don’t bring up money as the company is still deciding whether you can even do the job! Wait until you’ve won them over before having that discussion, otherwise you’ll look greedy. Plus if the perks are really that great, they’ll probably offer that information up during the interview process to encourage you to stick around.
2. Bad mouthing coworkers or companies. The fastest way to talk yourself out of a job offer is to be negative. Even if your former boss is a demonic vampire, or your company is in some kind of public demise, an interview is not the time to vent, trash-talk, or complain. Regardless of whether your feelings toward a former employer, coworker, or company are justified or reasonable, you will still be seen as a complainer if you focus on the negative. It could also could make your future boss see you as someone who would just as quickly badmouth him or her. Always have a positive spin on your experiences prepared for the interview.
3. Constant fidgeting or verbal ticks. It’s natural to be nervous before a big job interview. Nervous habits like tapping your fingers, shaking your leg, or fidgeting with your resume will distract the interviewer’s attention from what you’re saying. The interviewer needs to be comfortable with you in order to want to work with you. No one wants someone around who makes them uneasy, and verbal ticks can be even more distracting and uncomfortable. Try to focus on what you’re saying instead of how you feel in order to avoid using “umm,” “well...,” and “you know.” Remember, there’s nothing wrong with taking a second to take a breath and think about your answer before starting your response.
4. Showing up too early or too late. Only a true emergency should keep you from arriving to an interview on time. If you can, do a trial run a day or two before so you can account for traffic, unexpected construction, or other delays. You should always plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early, but not much earlier than that. Many job seekers don’t consider that showing up too early can hurt your candidacy, too. Having a desk assistant call the interviewer half an hour before your scheduled time is an inconvenience for the person who set aside a specific time slot to meet you. It can also imply that you’re desperate for a job, or have too much time on your hands. Your actions should show that your time is just as valuable as the interviewer’s. Show up on time. Or stall outside until it’s time like the rest of us.
5. Little knowledge about the company or the job. Nothing kills a candidacy quicker than not knowing the details of the job you’re interviewing for, or not having well-thought out questions prepared about the company. The candidate who hasn’t bothered to do pre-interview research is the candidate who will be seen as disinterested. The best way to leave an impression is to prove your interest with a few thoughtful questions that reflect your knowledge of their organization. I once had a candidate ask me to remind them of what job we were discussing. It’s vitally important to research the company, and know the job description inside and out if you want to be taken seriously.
6. Not matching communication styles. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get the interview if you can’t get along with the interviewer. One of your tasks during the interview is to show you fit into the team, and a big part of that is communication. It’s important to match the style of communication your interviewer uses. If they’re all business, don’t crack jokes or use slang. Be concise and professional. If the interviewer is being personable and transparent, take the bait and talk about them a little bit. Their style should be evident from the moment you meet, and from the location of the interview. If they’re in their office but sitting next to you, be personable. If they’re across the table in a conference room, stay more professional. Allowing the interviewer to set the tone, and following it, will put them at ease and make them more likely to like you.
7. Being rude to the receptionist. Your interview starts the moment you park your car. Every person you meet could be the hiring manager’s best buddy at the water cooler. The first person you interact with is usually a receptionist, and they’re also the first person your new boss likely says hi to each day, too. Don’t assume they don’t have input. Everyone in an office could have the power to affect whether you’re considered. In fact, many interviewers ask the opinions of receptionists or other employees you may have encountered after you leave.
What are your go-to moves for interview success? Share them in the comments below or tweet us at @HeyWorkingGirl!