Now that I have left the traditional workforce as a staff member (or underling as I used to call it), I am now the one running the human resources department and doing the interviewing of job candidates. We all made mistakes on our first interviews, but you can avoid the common pitfalls of the situation if you take heed and listen to my pet peeves. Over the years, the following stand out the most:
1. Coming in torn jeans. This category has to do with appearance and covers attire, hair style, makeup, jewelry, and any accessories. I can’t believe that some men come in tee shirts with silly logos. Even in the dot.com world, this isn’t appropriate on the interview. You can find out what is allowed later. It is never wrong to come well dressed in what is known as “business casual.” Ladies, leave the heavy makeup and false eyelashes at home. The same goes for giant tote bags (briefcases are fine), stiletto heels, green or purple hair, and facial ornamentation such as a nose stud. The first moment you enter the room will cause the interviewer to form a positive or negative judgement.
2. Inarticulate speech. If you stumble over your words, it will be used against you. It will hinder your ability to answer the interviewer’s questions. Practice ahead of time. The Internet is full of all kinds of sample queries like “where do you see yourself in ten years?” This category includes poor word choices and bad grammar. Improper pronunciation stands out like a sore thumb. Don’t mumble under your breath, but speak up clearly. Showing off a good vocabulary is fine.
3. Arguing. Some candidates want to boast or argue to appear confident as they think it will help get the job. It doesn’t. You can disagree during the interview, but leave any aggression out of it. You might need to clarify an erroneous assumption, for example, but this isn’t arguing.
4. Lying. Always tell the truth and never pad a resume as the interviewer will do a background check if they like you. Even one small indiscretion can cost you a terrific job. This goes for inflating past salaries. While most employers won’t give away your title or earnings, some might out of spite. Stay with facts at all times.
5. Ignorance. I never liked a candidate who knew nothing about the job responsibilities or the company culture. Job hunters are told these days to check out at least the website. It is also a good idea to talk to current employees if you can find them ahead of time. Let the interviewer know that you cared enough to do advance research. You will sound more polished and professional.