Your resume has done its job and you’ve landed an interview. It’s great progress toward finding your next big opportunity, but how you present yourself in person is what really matters. Unfortunately, even smart people can make a bad impression and not even know it. Take some advice on what not to do, according to staffing experts who see too many candidates making the same mistakes over and over again.
1. Don’t talk about money.
“Candidates who are proactive and research their market value before the interview rarely bring up compensation during the first or second interviews. These candidates are the cream of the crop because they aren’t focused on what the company can do for them. Rather, they focus on how they can contribute to the company and really add value. Employers want to hear what strengths are being brought to the table and how they will not only contribute to the team but also compliment.”
–Scott Galanos, branch manager at staffing and search firm Addison Group
2. Don’t neglect to do research.
“One of the biggest mistakes candidates make during a job interview is not doing their research. Prior to, and during, your interview process you should click through as much of their website as you can and read any articles you can find on the company online. Not only will this help you hone in on the questions you want to ask but you’ll enter the interview process with some context. Related, it’s a major red flag to any recruiter or hiring manager if you show that you have no real knowledge about the company. Even if you were approached about a job you should do a basic review of their product before you start interviewing. Basic questions like ‘what do you do?’ are far too common and convey laziness and a general disinterest in the company that can be hard to recover from.”
–Lucia Smith, an HR Consultant for Gray Scalable, which provides customized HR solutions for companies including WeWork, BuzzFeed, and Spotify
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of your appearance.
“Please remember to consider the little things. It’s important to dress well and have a positive attitude. What many candidates forget are the smaller details like, hair, makeup, shoes, and so forth. Here’s a great example of a final candidate who lost the job because of his fingernails. They were excessively long and dirty. The hiring manager couldn’t overlook this flaw in appearance, because the candidate would be on the front line helping clients who would find this unacceptable. Candidates must consider what the hiring manager and other stakeholders like customers, vendors, and suppliers will pay attention to. Also, a well-crafted, thoughtful thank you note is a differentiator. It keeps you top of mind and moves you ahead of candidates who fail to follow up. The best thank you letters offer rich details. Show you understand the challenges and opportunities of the position and are ready to produce results.”
–Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, author of The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business and coauthor Rethinking Human Resources
4. Don’t ignore other staff members.
“First impressions aren’t limited to the interviewer. It’s critical for candidates to keep in mind that the interview is ‘on’ the moment they connect on video or walk in the front door of the office. With this in mind, make sure to treat everyone you meet along the way with courtesy and respect. Most interviewers will ask everyone who interacted with you for their impression following the interview. A good rule of thumb is to treat everyone at a potential new employer like the CEO — you never know who you’re talking to! If you’ve neglected to do this, remember to make a point of implementing this practice in your next interview.”
–Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO of Montage, a recruiting technology provider that works with 100 of the Fortune 500 companies
5. Don’t wait to ask important questions.
“Proactively determine fit from the get-go by asking important questions. Traditionally candidates wait until the last 10 minutes of their in-person interview to ask questions that are most important to them. Meanwhile, employers are increasingly deploying smart autonomous technologies like chatbots for heavy pre-screening and upfront assessments, only to bring the most relevant folks onsite. In this new world, candidates should take advantage of the same technologies by asking good questions upfront. Doing so will directly showcase to employers their cultural and functional fit, ultimately leading to a better shot at landing the position, and tacitly help candidates feel more committed to the opportunity.”
–Ankit Somani, cofounder of AllyO, an artificial intelligence recruiting platform founded in 2016 by engineers from Google and MIT and used by more than 50 large enterprises in more than 10 industries and available in multiple languages and countries
6. Don’t over-exaggerate your passions or interests in an interview.
“What I mean by this is people try and make themselves seem more exciting, so they can sometimes oversell some things or even tell little white lies within very basic parts of their lives. For example, candidates may state that they are a keen cyclist, love playing chess, or have completed cooking courses as side parts about themselves, to make them seem more interesting. But then maybe it just so happens that the person who’s interviewing you is a grandmaster at chess, or maybe appeared on Master Chef. And then what? Honesty is just as important in questions about hobbies as it is about work experience. Getting caught in a lie devalues the interview and a person’s credibility. I remember interviewing someone years ago who claimed to be an avid track race driver, which it turns out I also happen to be. So, when I questioned him about where he did it, when he achieved his racing license, and the different competitions he may have entered, his story completely fell apart. For me, if you are willing to lie about that, what else may you be willing to lie about within your skills, achievements, and experience?”
–Arran Stewart, co-owner of Job.com, an online recruitment platform powered by blockchain technology with more than 60 million users worldwide
7. Don’t just research the company–research who you’re interviewing with, too.
“Prior to your interview, scour your interviewer’s LinkedIn account and examine if you have common connections. Not only can this help you during your interview, but your interviewer is probably doing the same with your LinkedIn account and online presence. Also make sure your social media accounts are scrubbed of anything that you don’t want a potential employer to know about you.”
–Ann King, cofounder of executive recruiting firm CVPartners
8. Don’t ask the wrong person about the “next steps” during your interview.
“Often, the person interviewing you is on a different team in the company, or, just not up to date on the recruiting team’s timeline. You are better off waiting to ask the hiring manager or the HR lead about what’s next in the process. Instead, utilize the limited time you have during your interview to ask meaningful questions, such as ‘What makes an A player an A player,’ or, ‘What keeps you up at night?'”
–Liz Wessel, cofounder and CEO of WayUp, a job site and mobile app for college students and recent graduates used by millions of people since its launch in 2014
9. Don’t be late.
“One of the more basic but also important tips is to always leave plenty of time to get to an interview. If you are in a city, checking in to building security or traffic can take longer than expected. It’s important to arrive in a calm state and present in an organized fashion. Simply being on time greatly aids in this goal.”
–Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, a hiring app which uses an algorithm to blindly match qualified workers with companies based on skills which exceeded 50,000 downloads in 2017