CROSSROADS CONSULTING INTERVIEWED

We were contacted recently by Amanda Koehler, Associate Editor for ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals and asked, along with some other experts in the field our thoughts on interviewing. Here is the article:

Interview Don’ts

Stay away from these snafus.

By Amanda Koehler

Sure, you’ve been told what to do during an interview. Maintain good posture. Have a strong handshake. Be timely when arriving to your interview. Wear appropriate clothing. But have you ever been specifically told what not to do during the interview process?

Sometimes it’s important to be aware of the interview “no-nos.” “If you know what not to do, you will decrease the probability of making choices during an interview that will likely prevent you from getting hired,” explained Brent Peterson, PMP, MS, MBA, creator and president, Interview Angel. “You do not have to conduct a perfect interview to get a job offer, but you do need to avoid some fatal mistakes.”

So what should you not do during an interview? Read on to avoid some specific interview faux pas and help yourself get that dream job.

Don’t Arrive Too Early

Punctuality is an important trait to have, especially when it comes arriving on time for your job interview. However, can you ever arrive at an interview too early? Our experts say “yes.”

“Think about it. If the interview is scheduled for 10 a.m. and you arrive at 9:15 a.m., the receptionist will call and announce your arrival, or the interviewer will see you are very early and feel pressured to begin the interview early,” noted Julie Bauke, owner, Congruity Consulting LLC, and author of Stop Peeing on Your Shoes: Avoiding the Seven Mistakes That Screw Up Your Job Search. “When I was in a hiring position, it would mildly annoy me the person apparently couldn’t tell time. It could also say, ‘I’m desperate or I don’t have anything else to do.’”

Being “on time” for an interview means being 10-15 minutes early maximum. Bauke advised if you do arrive to the facility early, sit in your car and review your résumé. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, do a dry run a few days before your interview to find the location.

Don’t Dish on Your Current Employer

It’s pretty much inevitable: the interviewer will ask you about your current job and why you want to leave it. This is not the time to talk about your hateful boss, your lazy coworkers or your awful hours.

“You should not say anything negative or personal about your current employer. Keep all comments professional and positive, regardless of how you may feel,” Peterson advised.

Bauke noted it’s OK to say your current job isn’t a good fit for you, but don’t go into too much negative detail. “It may be 100 percent true your current job is a place full of crazies, but your interviewer has no context of that. He may be thinking, ‘Maybe she is the crazy one,” she said. “Don’t put him in the position to decide who to believe.”

Don’t Wing It

Not preparing for an interview is a huge “don’t.” Always remember to review your résumé and think of answers to possible interview questions (such as, “Tell me about yourself? Why did you leave your last job? What are your strengths and weaknesses?”). It’s a great idea to have a family member, friend or even a career coach give you a mock interview to prepare.

“Don’t walk in cold. That’s a guarantee you won’t get the job,” stressed Mitch Beck, president, Crossroads Consulting LLC.

Beck also noted knowing information about the place where you’re interviewing is crucial. “Companies like to know you did the research. Google the company, read articles, look up financials and their stock ticker, if that’s available. Even Google the gal who’s going to interview you,” he said. “People think they have to think on the fly [during an interview]. If you’ve already done your research, there’s nothing to think about than to answer the questions as best as you possibly can.”

“Even in a strong economy, there is competition for job opportunities. Today, competition for jobs is intense,” Peterson told ADVANE. “If you wing it and an equally qualified candidate thoroughly prepares for the interview, who do you think will get hired?”

Another good reason not to wing it is the interviewer might assume you’ll “wing it” while doing your job as well, Bauke added.

Don’t Be a Blabbermouth

It’s easy to understand why people might talk too much during an interview. For some people, excessive talking is a sign of nervousness. That being said, try not to do it.

“The interviewer has a lot he wants to learn about you–let him ask the questions he wants to ask,” Bauke said. “Answer the questions and shut up. The interviewer may be thinking you will also talk non-stop on the job.”

If nerves are your problem, remember the interviewer is probably just as nervous as you are, but she just isn’t showing it, Beck said.

Don’t Forget to Ask Your Own Questions

This interview is a two-way street. Just as it’s important for the interviewer to ask you questions to determine if you are a good fit for the facility, it’s also key you ask the interviewer questions about the job to see if the facility is a good fit for you.

Beck suggested bringing a notebook with questions you have for the interviewer. This is helpful in case you get nervous and forget the questions you wanted to ask. “If you don’t ask questions, it shows you have zero interest. If you have any interest at all in the job, it’s now your turn to interview them,” he said.

“Organizations want to hire people who want to be there, someone who is truly interested and has invested time in learning about them,” Bauke explained. “They don’t want someone who just wants a job. If he has answered everything you could possibly want to know about the company and job, ask the interviewer about himself–how long he has been there, what he likes about it, etc. Remember, people love to talk about themselves!”

Peterson mentioned having good questions for the interviewer can make you stand out in the candidate pool. An example of a smart question to ask is, “What is the most important contribution you would expect from me during the first 90 days?”

 

Phone Interview Don’ts

Phone interviews are becoming more popular, sometimes as an early screening process or if you are currently living far away from your potential new job. But just because you aren’t sitting in a conference room face-to-face with your interviewer, that doesn’t mean you should take a phone interview less seriously.

Don’t sit around in your pajamas with your hair a mess during a phone interview. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit, but take a shower and dress up a little. It’ll make you feel more professional during the phone interview.

Bauke also said to make sure you are not multitasking during your interview. Don’t answer e-mails, make lunch, watch TV or drive while you are speaking to your interviewer. Peterson added to make sure you are in a place without a lot of background noise.

Other Don’ts

Salary is always a touchy subject during the interview process. Bauke suggested not bringing the subject of your paycheck up during your first interview. “Let them get to know you first. The more they decide they have to have you, the more flexible they will be when it comes to salary,” she added.”

She said if salary doesn’t come up by the end of the second interview, it’s OK to ask, “Can you give me an idea of the salary range for this position and the company benefits?” Even though you should know what your personal expected range is when it comes to salary for that position, don’t reveal your bare minimum number to the interview.

Even though it might seem like common sense, Beck said don’t ever go to an interview in unacceptable attire. “I don’t care if you’re going to an interview for a dog groomer or a car mechanic position, you wear a suit and a tie,” he noted. “Even if the place is a casual environment, it’s about showing respect.”

No matter how much you may need this job, don’t let it come through during the interview. “You could be down to your last dollar, but never, ever, ever act desperate. They don’t need to know that. You don’t want to give the impression this is your last chance in life. If they are interested in you, they then know they don’t have to pay you as much; they’ll know you’ll take anything,” Beck explained.

Peterson said his most important “don’t” deals with the “who you know” concept. “Don’t ever assume your résumé and connections will automatically get you hired,” he stressed. “Those two factors may get you the interview, but it’s the interview that gets you the job.”

Bauke said not to forget to ask about the hiring process works and when you should be expecting a response so you can follow up appropriately. “Your follow-up strategy–and your expectations–will vary greatly depending on whether they will be making a decision tomorrow or 3 weeks from tomorrow,” she said.

Amanda Koehler (akoehler@advanceweb.com) is associate editor of ADVANCE.

Additional Don’ts

Don’t leave your cell phone on during the interview. “I don’t care if your wife is 8 months pregnant, shut off your cell phone. Nothing is so critical it can’t wait an hour. This shows respect during the interview, and it’s important.” –Beck

Don’t get thrown with the “what are your weaknesses?” question. “No matter what you say, it’s going to bite you in the butt. What I’ve learned over the years from my experience is people want to know whether you can follow directions or not. So for example, you could say, ‘I don’t see any glaring weaknesses, but I can tell you this, I know I’m not perfect. I know you’re going to find different things you’d want me to work on, and I will be willing to work on them. I’m open to constructive criticism.’” — Beck

Don’t assume the interviewer has your résumé. “Have extras available. If they tell you you’re going to be meeting with three people, make sure you have six copies. This shows you are prepared, and you never know, you may need all of them.” — Beck

Don’t lie. “Tell the truth. The truth is the easiest story to remember.” — Beck

Don’t give a limp handshake. “Don’t ever give somebody the dead fish grip. It’s gross. What kind of a handshake is that? Fist bumps don’t work either!” — Beck

Don’t wipe your hand on your pants post-handshake. “What you do with your hand after you shake someone else’s says a lot. If you wipe your hand on your pants, it’s like saying, ‘I want your disease off of me.’ Even if his hand is sweaty, don’t do that. If your hand is sweaty, make sure to wipe your hand off before you have to see him.” — Beck

Don’t be afraid to ask what you did wrong during the interview. “There’s nothing wrong at all in asking someone for a critique. It’s showing you care. People are terrified to find out they did something bad, but wouldn’t you want to know if you screwed up so you can make it right the next time?” — Beck

Don’t give the wrong answers. “Sometimes your answers simply are not good enough. This usually happens when your skills/experience/strengths are not directly connected to the position. Many people will have a set speech in all interviews; however, if your skills are not catered to that specific position and interview, then this will come off as unprepared.” — David Couper, career life coach

Don’t forget to react. “An interview is more than just question and answer time. You need to connect to your interviewer and prove there is a spark, a personality behind the words. Make eye contact, smile, use your hands, concentrate on your mannerisms and show enthusiasm. After all, no one wants to hire a robot, even if he has all the right answers. You need to make your presence known.” — Couper

Don’t come sick. “Be sure you are healthy or take over-the-counter meds to be sure you are not sniffling, coughing or sneezing.” — Jim Villwock, founder and chief job doctor, Job Doctors International LLC

Don’t cross your arms. “Even if you have a faulty internal temperature control device like me, do not fold your arms around yourself to keep warm. Crossing your arms makes you appear insecure, uncomfortable, defensive or close minded, none of which will be received positively during an interview.” — Abby Kohut, president and staffing consultant, Staffing Symphony LLC

–Don’t forget the interviewer’s name. “Using it during your interview will help you remember it and create a connection.” — Heather R. Huhman, founder and president, Come Recommended

Don’t argue with the interviewer for any reason. “This will not get you anywhere.” — Huhman

Don’t forget to thank them. “Always–I repeat, always–send a thank you note at every stage of the hiring process, to every individual with whom you speak or meet. As usual, send an e-mail thank you within 24 hours and for that added touch, also send a shorter, handwritten thank you note via snail mail.”– Huhman

–Don’t take yourself too seriously. “Laugh with the hiring manager. It could help you land the job!” –Huhman

Don’t come to the interview with moral support. “Bringing your parents or a friend will not impress your potential employer.” — Huhman

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