What I wish job candidates knew about interviewing

The beginning of the year is always a busy time for hiring. As I work with a number of clients to fill openings, I’m continually amazed by the things I see job candidates say and do during their interviews.

interviewpetpeeveHere are a few things that I see regularly that are real deal killers.

  1. Electronic buzzes, beeps or devices.
    I’m as wired as the next person, but in a job interview you want to be present here, not connected elsewhere. Leave your phone in the car. If you have to have it with you, turn it off! There is nothing more distracting than the random electronic interruptions of a busy phone (even on vibrate).
  2. Badmouthing your prior bosses or co-workers.
    When I ask about the results you’ve achieved in your prior roles, please don’t throw your prior bosses or co-workers under the bus. I don’t want to hear about the drama in your department, or the personality quirks that undermined your success. There are difficult people everywhere, I want to know how you thrived and achieved. If the challenges you faced caused you to learn and grow, tell me that. But I want to hear mostly about you, your work and your achievements. Talking about others disempowers you, and ends up sounding pretty whiney.
  3. Too casual (dress, attitude, language).
    An interview is your chance to put your best foot forward; in fact, it should be you at your best. While you know the company dress code might be casual and that there is a Nerf hoop and foosball table in the middle of the office, it’s still OK for you to look professional! Don’t look like you’re going to hang out a frat house.
  4. No resume.
    I may be running into this interview after 5 back-to-back meetings. Don’t make me go back to my desk to get your resume. Have one (or five) printed nicely in your bag.
  5. Not prepared.
    Study the job posting, review your notes from the phone screen, review the company’s web site, social media pages and news items. What issues do you know the company is facing? Think about why we might need this position – how could you make a difference here. Come ready to articulate this point of view.
  6. Questions about compensation, vacation, your office, or other things that are primarily about you.
    These are all important issues once it’s been determined that you are a good fit for the job. There is plenty of time to discuss these issues at the offer stage. Bringing them up now makes me feel like compensation, perks, and vacation are more important to you than your fit for the job.

The one most important thing you need to do is to leave the impression that you want the job, that you’re excited by it, and you have ideas about how you’ll help move the organization forward.

What are your interview pet peeves? 

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