Now that you know WHAT to do, let’s talk about what NOT to do when you have your interview. Some of these suggestions may seem like a no-brainer, but still, they should be highlighted.
Assume casual dress is ok for a high-tech or start-up company! If you’re unsure about what to wear, ask the recruiter. They are more than happy to give you advice. Our personal preference is that people always dress professionally for the interview, no matter what the company culture is. You are representing yourself and therefore should always put your best foot forward.
Lie. At all. About any of your experiences. Ever. (enough said)
Use colorful language. If you’re just starting out in the professional world after or during college, you will get farther faster if you omit the “likes” and “totallys” from your vocabulary. Practice with a friend if you need to. Also, you should not swear or make any kind of ethnic or slang reference at all during an interview. This is not the place to show how “cool” you think you are.
Talk bad about a previous employer. We’ve all had lousy experiences, but in 99% of those experiences, you can find something good about the situation, even if it is that you learned you didn’t like it! Get your mindset in a positive place and try to represent your time at that horrific company in a professional way. No one wants to hear that you were treated unfairly or that they just “didn’t get it”. If you’re unsure what to say when they asked why you left, it’s completely ok to say that it just wasn’t a fit for you. If they ask why, then you can find an honest reason (prepare this in your head before the interview)…perhaps you didn’t feel passionate about the product or you weren’t comfortable with the direction of the company or department.
Badmouth a Previous Co-Worker
The same goes with previous co-workers. This is a very small world we live in and there is a good chance that one of the people you’re speaking with will know the person you despise from Company A. Let it go. If they ask if you knew them, simply say yes and leave it at that.
Use your cell phone. Leave it in the car or turn it off. You can live without it for a few hours, I promise. You don’t need the distraction of your buddy texting you in the middle of the interview.
Underestimate the power of the Recruiter or HR Representative! Never think that an HR person is not a value add. You could be the best technical/non-technical talent there is, but if HR thinks you’ll be a nightmare to manage, they won’t support the hire. And most of the time management listens to them.
Forget to ask questions. So at the end of a long interview day, the very last person says to you “do you have any questions for me?” DON’T say “nope, I’m good.” Every single person on this planet likes to be asked about themself. So even if you’ve run out of business related questions, you can always ask “how long have you been with the company?” or “what drew you to this technology/company/group?” or “what do you like about it?” You’d be surprised at what kind of dialogue this opens up for you. See above for more suggestions. If you’d like ideas about what to ask, read our blog article that has suggestions.
Talk about politics or religion. You know those disclaimers on every job description about not discriminating against applicants because of race, sex, religion etc??? Take that as a clue that you should not discuss these topics during an interview. If it’s not relevant to the job, don’t bring it up. Don’t ask if they have medical coverage for your 15 children. Don’t tell them about your religious awakening. Don’t brag about voting for a particular party. Just keep it related to the job and you should be fine.
Remember: An interview is an opportunity to highlight your best skills, traits and education. It is a time to be at your best. If you need help preparing for an interview, reach out to a recruiter or trusted friend to coach you prior to the interview.