As a Human Resources Professional (currently on hiatus to be with my kids), I have been in a lot of interviews. And I mean A LOT! And I’ve seen it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve recruited hundreds of people and conducted so many interviews I’ve lost count. One of the greatest pleasures of my job is recruiting and hiring the right person for a job that they absolutely love and thrive at. It’s rewarding and it makes me happy to see others become successful.
However, the process doesn’t always go so great. Unfortunately, I’ve come across many candidates who look amazing on paper but then completely bomb the interview. So I thought I’d put together a list of 10 things NOT to do during an interview. The 10 commandments of interviewing, if you will.
1. Chew gum. Duh right? Oh you’d be surprised.
2. Be late. Arrive at least 15 minutes early and while you are waiting just sit there and collect your thoughts. Do breathing exercises. Anything to calm your nerves. Do not for the love of God, make phone calls for other interviews.
3. Be rude to the receptionist (or anyone for that matter). These people may become your future colleagues if you’re lucky, so being nice to everyone right off the bat is critical to making a solid first impression.
4. Forget to turn off your phone. You read that right, turn off your phone, do not put it on vibrate. When it vibrates, everyone can still hear it and it’s super awkward.
5. Forget to shake hands and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Remember that you are selling yourself so this is the time to stand tall, keep your head up and be confident. A firm (but not too firm) handshake is essential. Have you ever shook someones hand and it felt limp? It’s the worst!
6. Forget the names of the people interviewing you. It’s a little offensive to the person you forget if say, you remembered all but one. Make a note of who is who and what their positions are. It’s okay to look down at your notes. Nobody is expecting you to remember every single thing. It’s always a nice touch if you bring up their position without them offering the information. For example, “Congratulations so and so on your new position as Head of blah blah blah.”
6. Come unprepared. Do your research on the company, on who is interviewing you, on the department, etc… You should know why you want to work there so be prepared to talk about their mission and how you can help them accomplish their goals.
7. Ask about salary. I know some may beg to differ but this is a no no. An interview (especially a panel interview) is not the place to talk numbers. If it’s a panel interview, any mention of salary makes everyone in the room cringe. You should already know the salary range and be ok with it if you accepted the interview. Salary discussions occur with the hiring manager or Human Resources during the final stages of the interview process.
8. Come under dressed or wear a loud and distracting outfit (unless the interview calls for it — like a creative position in the Arts or Design). Have you heard the saying, dress for the position you want? This statement is so true because what you wear says a lot of about who you are as a person. If you look put together, polished and professional, that is how people will perceive you.
9. Talk smack about your previous boss, company or co-workers. This should be a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how often this happens. No matter how unhappy you are at your current company, please remain neutral. A question may be asked about why are you looking to leave your current position. This is not a green light to say whatever you want. Be honest but be very careful with your wording. “My boss is too strict and I don’t like my co-workers” does not go over very well.
10. Be overly casual and think that its “in the bag” . Even if you think you are nailing this interview and got a good vibe from everyone, you have no idea who is going to walk in the room after you….remain professional!
Bonus Tip: Your interview begins the moment someone picks up the phone and calls you or emails you and you respond. Your manner and professionalism must shine through your conversations or email communication with anyone that you come in contact with way before you show up for your interview. Be courteous, polite and respectful to everyone! Even the receptionist or administrative assistant that called you to schedule your interview because if you’re not, trust me, it wont be long until the hiring manager and Human Resources finds out.
One of the things I often did as HR was ask our receptionist what she though of the candidate upon meeting them. And I always took her opinion seriously.
Let’s talk more about appropriate interview attire…
If you’re looking for the perfect interview outfit, Banana Republic has got you covered. Their classic pieces are always so polished and put together and it doesn’t break the bank because they always have amazing sales going on. I recently purchased this black and white off the shoulder dress at 50% off! I just threw on a motto jacket and added black heels and it transformed into the perfect power “suit” for you lady bosses out there. The best part is it’s very slimming and hugs at just the right places!
Banana Republic is killing it right now with their new collection of dresses but if you just get one this season, get this! It’s the most versatile dress you’ll have in your closet. Wear it to an interview, a wedding, a graduation party, a baptism, date night, the theater, the list goes on and on. Just swap out the shoes and accessories and you’ve got a million reasons to wear this dress.
I purchased mine for a cruise I’m going to next month and will be wearing it for our formal dinner. I can’t wait!
What I’m Wearing: