Interviews are tough. They are often the only opportunity you have to make an impression with a prospective employer, and are unforgiving if you get things wrong. Mastering the interview technique is very difficult, especially as individual companies have very different processes and expectations of their applicants. There are, however, some very important things that should never be said or done at an interview, no matter who the company interviewing you may be.
#1 – Say any of the following (or similar)
- I hate my current job
- My boss is an idiot
- How much holiday do I get?
- Do you pay sick pay?
- I’m desperate for this job
- Can I work from home?
- Can I answer my phone?
- Sorry I’m late
- How long will this interview take?
#2 – Not having the first clue about the company you are currently interviewing for
You should always research the company that you are interviewing for. With the instant availability of the internet there is no excuse for a lack of knowledge about what the business produces or the services it offers.
Make sure you know as much as you can about the business and if there’s something that you do not quite understand, make a note to ask.
#3 – Leaving your phone on (or answering it)
NEVER leave your phone on during an interview. The chances of securing a position after your phone starts playing the latest gangster rap song are slim to none (probably none). In the awkward event that you phone does go off during an interview, turn it off immediately and apologise. NEVER answer it, even to tell the person that you can’t speak.
#4 – Wear inappropriate clothing
Don’t turn up for an interview in unironed or dirty clothes. Make sure that you’ve made an effort and that this shows in your appearance, remember that your personal brand is more important than ever. Inappropriate clothing includes, but is not limited to:
- Ridiculously short mini skirt
- T-shirts with slogans on (even if it’s a Breaking Bad slogan!)
- A baseball cap (either way around)
- Unwashed or stained clothes
- Too much after shave or perfume
- Novelty tie (‘no’. Just ‘no’)
#5 – Appear negative
Constantly talking about all the negative aspects of your current or previous job won’t give the best impression of you as an individual. Never insult your previous manager, no matter how bad they were, or the company that you currently/previously worked for. This negativity may be the result of years of built up frustrations but the interview isn’t the time or place to vent this frustration.
As far as the interviewer knows, you may be just as negative about the new role on the first day.
#6 – Chew gum or suck on a sweet
Chewing gum or sucking on a sweet while having a conversation is annoying to the other party at the best of times, during an interview it’s just plain rude and disrespectful. The lack of respect and the likely inability to talk properly will almost certainly get the interview terminated early.
Equally, don’t rid yourself of the gum under the interview table/desk!
#7 – Lie
Don’t lie, either verbally or on your CV. You’ll get caught out by any interviewer worth their salt and if you’re unable to fulfill the untruths that you’ve conveyed then it’s you that will suffer in the end. It’s estimated that approx 53% of CV’s have falsifications and that as much as 78% are misleading. This means that if you don’t lie on your CV then you are in the minority!
#8 – Appear cocky or over confident
Coming across as arrogant or over confident isn’t a good trait, and one which will not do you any favours in an interview. If you’re that great then why are you looking for a job and not running your own company? Remember that however great you think you are, you still need the people in the interview to like and respect you, and want to work with you.
There’s a fine line between appearing confident in your own abilities and boasting about how great you are.
#9 – Forget your manners
Always remember your ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’. This should be a rule of life, but it’s particularly important when making an impression and portraying a professional image. Remember that patience is a virtue. No matter how long the interview takes don’t start to fidget, if there’s a delay in your interview start time then be patient.
#10 – Appear over rehearsed
Answering interview questions as if you’re reading them from a script won’t allow your personality to shine through. Prepare for certain questions but not word for word, just know what you would like to say generally, not word for word. Richard Branson stated recently that personality is the most important trait that he looks for in an applicant. Don’t blow an interview by seeming wooden.