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10 Things NOT to Do on an Interview


Many people will give you advice on what things you should be doing during an interview to get a call back, but have you given much thought to unintentional mistakes you could be making that are costing you jobs? On this page, we’ll go over ten of the most common interview blunders, so you can avoid making them.


1) Lying, Fibbing, Exaggerating, and Stretching the Truth


It doesn’t matter what you call it, anything other than the truth is a major red flag for employers. Even something as minor as adjusting months of employment to make it look like there isn’t a gap will raise alarm bells for a seasoned HR pro. Be honest about what you do (and don’t) bring to the table.


2) Anything with Your Cell Phone


Unless your interviewer suggests you meet again, and you want to check your calendar, your cell phone belongs out of sight and on silent. Even leaving it on the desk while you chat can make it look like you’re disinterested in the discussion.


3) Fidgeting


Your cell phone isn’t the only thing that can get you into trouble. Things like twirling pencils, toying with items on the desk, or fidgeting in your chair make it look like you’re mentally someplace else. Remove all distractions and give your interviewer your full attention.


4) Dressing Unprofessionally


True, in today’s start-up culture, some execs may interview you in bare feet, but they’re the rare exception. Always dress better than you think you need to be dressed for the interview. A polo shirt may be totally acceptable workwear, but don a shirt and tie to make a good impression. Ladies should, at the very least, wear a professional-looking blouse and possibly a blazer. Be mindful of shoes as well; close-toed only!


5) Ignoring the Team


Really great bosses (the kind you want to work for) value their team and the team’s opinion. If you snub the receptionist or anyone else in the office, chances are a word of your behavior will get back to the boss. Take a moment to be professional and polite with anyone you’re introduced to.


6) Arriving Late or Too Early


If you’re traveling to an area you don’t normally visit, try to do a dry run of the drive at the same time of day ahead of time. That way, you can get a more accurate prediction of how long it will take you to make your way there. If you’re tech-savvy and can’t squeeze this in, at least use a navigation app to clock the time at the same time of day you’ll be driving. Remember to add time in for things like parking, walking to the building, and locating the right office. It’s a good rule of thumb to try to arrive 5-10 minutes prior to your appointment.


7) Not Knowing Details About the Company


Businesses don’t just want to know you’re qualified for the job. They want to know why you’re excited to work for them in particular. Do a bit of research on the company and, if possible, whoever is interviewing you.


8) Talking About Money


Yes, money matters, but if you bring it up too soon, it can seem like that’s your primary concern. It’s good to know what you’re worth going into it, and you can even do online research to see what the firm usually pays, but hold off on discussing money with the interviewer until he or she brings it up or you’re offered the job.


9) Trash Talking


Your former employer may have been horrible and your boss suited for a gig at Initech, but the interview is not the time to rehash old wounds. It’s almost a guarantee your interviewer will be picturing you talking about their team that way and will get the idea that you were the problem. Practice diplomatic answers in advance to tough questions, like how you’ve dealt with adversity and what challenges you had to overcome at your prior place of work, so you know how to word things tactfully if they come up.


10) Forgetting About Body Language


Crossing your arms, slumping, not making eye contact, and offering a limp handshake, are often unspoken signs that you’re not really interested in the job. Some people do these things when they’re nervous as well, but it still sends the same message. If you need to work on confidence before going in, find a social situation or recruiting event where you can practice with lots of people. If you’re normally comfortable and confident around others, just be mindful of your behaviors.


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