Posted by on April 18, 2018

I’ve seen many reports out there that tell you what you should do in an interview to succeed. Underneath all that good advice, there are a few things you do NOT want to do and you might not even realize it until now.

From the moment you arrive to the end of the interview, you are being evaluated and judged. How you carry yourself, the way you chose to dress, or even the tone of voice you use. All of these things indicate how you’ll be in the workplace if they chose to hire you.

To be safe and prepared, here are several key items to avoid if you want to really make that great impression and be asked back:

Be on time

I have regularly refused an interview if the candidate is not there on time. If they can’t be on time for the interview, how will they treat clients and co-workers when things are important? I missed my flight in SFO once for a Florida interview. The airline pulled out all the stops and after 4 flights, I was there at 2 am – but I made my 8:00 am interview with the Vice President. Give yourself enough time for all possible delays – flights, traffic, parking or lack thereof, stains on your shirt, you name it. Be the commensurate Boy or Girl Scout for the day and arrive 10 minutes early.

Not wearing the right clothes

Some companies are all suit-and-tie while others are t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops. The way you dress is important and makes up a good part of that first impression. My secret weapon is to call the front desk 3-4 days in advance and tell them you’re coming in for an interview on say Friday. Ask their opinion of what’s acceptable for your gender, and how other interviewees dress. On the day of the interview, you can check in with the front desk and ask “how’d I do” showing your wardrobe. Not only will you likely be in synch with the office, but you’ll have made a friend at the front desk who can help you find hiring managers and interviewers after the fact when you don’t get a timely response.

Be prepared

Back to the Boy or Girl Scout motto, you should know a fair amount about your company. If they’re public, get ahold of a 10K or 10Q financial report and read the notes in the back – you can learn a ton about a company by those little side notes. The web as a lot if you dig a bit and you can look up officers and employees on LinkedIn to get a feel for the competency and background of others in similar roles. If you show up clueless about a major recent announcement you’ll probably not rack up any points.

Don’t tune out or detach

So your interviewer is unprepared, talks all about themselves, and takes up most of the interview time talking. They are in the process for a reason and may have veto power over you so pay attention. Raise your hand to interject and ask a key question about what they are talking about. If you stay attentive and make them feel like you’re interested in their perspectives, chances are you’ll get high marks from them. Candidates can end up in the “no” pile simply by seeming like they’re not all that interested. Above all, don’t check your phone while they’re talking – it should be totally off anyway.

Be an open book, not the National Enquirer

Interviewers often want to assess if you’re a real human with real interests along with your work experience and what you bring to the company.

People like to hire people. They don’t want to know about your dating relationship, your pets, or how you prefer your latte from Starbucks. Be honest with your answers, but don’t overcompensate. Keep your antidotes direct, focused and on point.

That bad boss you just had…

You may have had a horrible last boss, but the interviewer doesn’t need to know that. Talking down about you prior employer comes off negative, and what if you leave their firm in the future – what will you say about them?

If you’re asked a tough question about your prior employer, keep it big picture and share ways it could have been better, or how you contributed to correcting the issues. People move around all the time and you may find yourself face to face again with a former boss so be careful and professional.

Lacking proper follow-up

Keep the fire warm.  Be sure you get contact information from your interviewers. Send a brief thank you note immediately after the interview. (some people write it in the lobby and mail it right then).This will keep you top of mind and with a good memory of the visit. Before the interview ends, be sure to get “next steps” and with whom you should be contacting and when.

Truth is, we all make one or more of these mistakes at some point in our career. Hopefully, this article gives you pause to think and tools to avoid making the most common blunders. If you’re considering a career change or just advancing your role in your current career, CareerCOACH has various stages and steps to help you drive forward in the career you want. Contact Bob Britz at to arrange for a 30-minute complimentary phone or in person consultation.


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