(c) Howard Riches
This article gives a solid initial list of “sins” to avoid at job interviews:
1. Being late. Yes there can be good reasons to be late including weather disasters but if you can avoid being late, that’d be ideal. In my mind, if you are late I am asking myself, what other important things might you be late for? I would also add to this, try to respect the time allocated for the interview to the extent that you can.
2. Badmouthing a former employer.
3. Not being prepared with examples that illustrate why you’d excel at the job. I agree with her assertion that this goes to either credibility or preparedness if this goes off track.
4. Telling an off-color joke.
5. Not asking any questions.
6. Sounding bitter.
7. Not being likeable. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Though it seems obvious, I have certainly seen a lot of unlikable behaviour in interview and exam settings even accounting for nerves, sleep deprivation etc. This includes having a meltdown when there is a scheduling mistake etc. and in particular, thinking it’s OK to bawl out an administrative assistant for an error but be sweetness and light when a hiring manager arrives.
Most of this list fall under a category I would call bringing your “A game” soft skills to the interview which includes not being late, not being rude if something goes wrong (you are kept waiting, your computer doesn’t work) and following instructions.
Points I would add from my own experience:
Don’t frame your reasons for wanting a new job solely around your own needs without expressing what value you would bring to the team. Specific examples of things not to say (these are actual quotes from people I have met).
– I want a promotion/I want to increase my pensionable service average
– I am bored with my job.
– I want a job downtown.
Failing to answer the question. You’ll also generally want to avoid one word answers even if the question posed is a closed one (see the point above about giving specific examples) and, at the other end of the continuum, avoid continuing to talk long past the point that the question has been answered in some reasonable fashion – pick up cues from watching the interviewers (have they put their pens down etc.).
Not being honest in your answers. If nothing else is a motivator on this one, bear in mind that answers may be verified on reference checks. If you don’t know the answer to something better to say that than make it up. However, this is not to say that you can’t give an educated guess (couched as such) to a question. On one interview I hadn’t read a key document (it was early in my career) and I still remember the look of shock on my future boss’s face when I said this. Yup, that’s right, I got the job. I had prepared like crazy and, when offered the chance, I took a stab at the contents of the key document and made a reasonable guess at its contents and it was pretty close.