During a recent job search training, one of my students asked: “What is the one thing I should never say or do in an interview?” My initial response was “There really isn’t just one thing!”. After some group discussion, I offered my top three things to avoid when searching for a job.
Don’t be late
Of all the things that can go wrong, top of the list is being late to the interview. There is an old expression: “If you are not 15 minutes early, you are late”. That is great advice when interviewing.
If you are running late, call ahead. While you cannot beat the clock, you can communicate your schedule and show professionalism.
Pro-tip: If you arrive sooner, sit in your car until 15 minutes prior. Too early and you put the interviewer in the uncomfortable position of having to rearrange their schedule to accommodate you.
Don’t try to be funny
Having a sense of humor is a good thing, but interviews are about job skills and capability. You want to be personable and communicative. Telling jokes or being silly reduces your professionalism.
Recently I interviewed someone for a restaurant position. I asked, “why should my client hire you” and he responded: “Because I have a great smile” and then laughed because it was meant to be funny. We did not move forward.
Don’t come unprepared
It is your responsibility to be prepared for the interview. You should bring two copies of your resume and something you can take notes with, such as a pad of paper and a pen or pencil.
Research the company before the interview and read the job description so you can know what questions to expect. If you don’t have a job description, lookup similar jobs online to get a feel for what you might be asked in the interview.
Pro-tip: Ask for a business card or write down the interviewer’s name and email so you can follow up later with a thank you note.
There are many ways to trip up. But with practice, you can master the basics. Many mistakes are avoidable with a little foresight and planning.