There are certainly best practices to follow in a job interview.
But there are several things to avoid as well. Capella University Career Counselor Sue Fransen Way shares the top six behaviors to steer clear of in your interview.
Just don’t. It can be tempting if you have gaps in your resume or find yourself facing uncomfortable questions. But the risk is too great. If your lie is uncovered—and in the digital age, that’s much more easily done than ever before—the long-term consequences are worse. Instead, be honest and look for a way to explain that leaves as positive an impression as possible. For example, if you’ve had an employment gap, but used the time to gain more education or certifications, explain that.
2. Not Doing Your Homework
Even if an interview pops up last-minute, clear some time on your schedule to do your homework. Winging it in regard to background information about the company and the position is something that’s all too likely to trip you up. Understand the organization, the industry, and as much about the position as you possibly can. Allow time to research the people interviewing you, who can often be found on LinkedIn. Understanding their background and education can be helpful, and that level of research shows you’re thorough and prepared.
3. Underplaying Your Accomplishments
Modesty is a great quality—but it can hurt you in a job interview. Not only do you need to research the organization and its people, but you also need to think about what you bring to them with your past experience and knowledge. Resumes only tell so much. Be prepared to be clear about your strengths and what you’d bring to the organization that’s of value to them.
Plan to arrive at the interview a few minutes early so you can visit the restroom and make sure your appearance is as professional as possible. It’s amazing what a short drive or bus/train ride can do to your image. As for what to wear, keep to the professional end of the spectrum, whether that’s a suit and tie or a business dress. Keep the colors muted. Neon is a statement, but not necessarily one that works in your favor at an interview.
5. Appearing Desperate
You may very much want—or need—this job. But appearing desperate, or as if you’re begging them to give you the job, can imply that you’re not the best candidate. Calm confidence projects a different image: that of someone who has a lot to offer the employer.
6. Don’t Forget Basic Courtesy
The little things count:
- Don’t be late. Always plan to arrive earlier than necessary. Even if you sit in a nearby coffee shop or on a bench for 15 minutes, it’s better than trying to explain why you’re late. Always assume there’s a traffic jam or a late bus, and plan accordingly.
- Turn your phone all the way off. Nothing says “I’m not serious about this interview” like having your phone ring or notifications sound. Not to mention it’s distracting—and you don’t want to distract the interviewers from your suitability for the job.
- Always say thank you. Even if you feel the job interview didn’t go as well as you’d like, make sure you smile and thank the interviewer at the end. That gives you a polished, professional end to the interview.
The Capella Career Center offers networking tips, job search tools, career counseling, and more. Its mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful and effective career decisions.