In any interview, everything you do counts. And we mean everything!
Because you’re there to ‘sell’ yourself, the hiring manager would assume you are putting your best foot forward – so any sign of unprofessional or unproductive behaviour makes a big impact. Whether it’s something like arriving late and not acknowledging it, or a more severe no-no like sending text messages during the interview, there is a huge list of interview bloopers to avoid.
While there’s a lot about the interview process you can’t control — the interviewer’s pet peeves, the competition you’re up against, that gap in your résumé from two years ago – there’s also a lot that’s in your hands.
Here are some interview deal breakers that are a big NO for any candidate.
1. Showing up late (or not at all): There is zero excuse for tardiness for a pre-arranged interview. Even turning up five minutes late is enough to put the employer off you for good (especially if you didn’t have the decency to call before you are late, to explain why you are running late and apologising.) Traffic doesn’t matter – you should have planned ahead to account for any jams. And if you don’t turn up at all without even so much as a phone call, you can kiss goodbye to ever working for that company.
2. Disguising a strength as a weakness: Responding to the “what’s your biggest weakness?” question can be difficult. Most candidates try to spin a weakness into strength, but this isn’t what they’re looking for. They want to see your level of self-awareness, and then example of how you’ve tried to account for, or improve, that weakness. Saying, “I’m a perfectionist” doesn’t cut it.
3. You can’t explain your previous role accurately: One of the biggest red flags for any recruiter is the candidate’s inability to clearly articulate his/her responsibilities in a previous job. Interviewers are trying to understand exactly what you’ve accomplished in the past and how you function as a worker. If your answers are vague, you’re going to make it very hard for them to assess whether you’re the right fit for the job. Be precise and quantify your work – roles, responsibilities and how you have solved actual problems.
4. An Unkempt Social Media Presence: Assume all potential recruiters will check your social media output. If you don’t have your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube accounts managed appropriately, what they find could make a huge difference in how your application is handled. Remember, your online profile is an easy way to form the first impression and also a perception of your own brand.
5. Bad-mouthing previous co-workers and bosses: Speaking ill of your previous employers is a huge no-no. Why? Because even if all your concerns and peeves are warranted, all the employer sees is someone who they can’t trust, and who will badmouth others at the drop of a hat. Speaking about others in bad light suggests you are unprofessional and lack company loyalty. Always steer the conversation back to a positive direction.
6. Talking money and promotions at the start: Company benefits and salary negotiations don’t come into play until an offer has been extended. The first interview is about getting to know you, understanding your experience and gauging how well you’d fit into the culture – it’s not a time to talk money. If you do, you risk coming across as too focused on the compensation, rather than actually wanting the job for its growth opportunities and to contribute to the business.
7. Dressing down (or up!): Don’t wear jeans and flip flops, but you also don’t need to kit up in a full suit. Even if the job is at a very relaxed and casual advertising agency, dress smart. Something like neat jeans (no rips!), a nice blouse and a blazer works well for women, and something similar for men – no need for a shirt and tie. However, if the interview is more coporate, such as at a traditional bank, you might want to consider a crisp suit and tie. Rule of thumb: If you’re not sure, dress up – not down.
Want more information like this? Visit our Career Centre.