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What NOT to Do in an Interview

Posted by: Elena Craigie

While for an individual job hunter, an interview might only occur once or twice a month, an employer is likely to interview a couple of people per week - if not more, depending on the company size and need for new recruits. Interviewers develop their own techniques, and become attuned to candidates who can conduct themselves well when meeting their potential employer for the first time. If an interviewer is lucky enough to meet and interview two or more high-level candidates who would fit the job description's technical requirements, then the reason for selecting winner could come down to something as basic as good manners. Attitude, posture, concentration... these are all crucial in convincing an employer that they are hiring not just the right professional, but the right person.

Based on questions I've asked colleagues and employers, as well as my own experience of being interviewed, here is a list of the do nots when being interviewed face-to-face; of course, many of these suggestions can still be applied to phone interview conduct. And of course, don't be afraid of the bold type!

Bad manners can cost everything. First of all, as obvious as it is, do not swear. No matter how relaxed your interviewer might seem, or might make you feel, blurting expletives is only going to lower your general register in a situation where the more professional you come across, the better. Ideally, do not chew gum or suck sweets. You might not hear your own bizarre mouth noises, but your interviewer has entered this interview finely acclimatised to habits. The less reason you give your interviewer to be annoyed, the better. If you smoke, think about when you're going to have your cigarettes in relation to the interview. A quick smoke before the main event will leave a pungent smell on your breath. Breath mints before the interview can be very useful, but ideally, try to avoid smoking for at least an hour before you go in. Maybe avoid garlic bread, too.

Keep the notifications in your pocket. Your interviewer does not need to be informed that your latest profile picture is accumulating likes. Do not have your phone on loud or vibrate. Silent is the rule. If there is an emergency, a real emergency, in which you might receive a call, inform the interviewer beforehand.

You might win a shout-off, but you'll lose a job offer. It is inevitable that once or twice in a conversation people begin or resume talking at the same moment, and these are usually complete coincidences. Do not talk over your interviewer. Wait until they have finished their statement or their question and then say your piece. If they say something funny, use only your casual laugh - this is not the time for any hysterical cackles.

What are you doing while you're listening? Do not slouch. And do not lean too far forward. Do not yawn where possible (think good night's sleep the day before). Smile. Do not stare at the walls, floor, windows, conference room computer, the arms of chairs, the patterns in the table between you, or the CV's. Engage with your interviewer. Make eye contact. As terrifying as they might seem, they are untrained in the dark arts, nor can they breathe fire. They are interviewing you because something about your CV or a phone interview impressed them. They want you to continue impressing them.

Do not be late. No employer is going to find lateness an attractive quality in their prospective next employee. If you are running late, do everybody a favour and phone ahead to inform them... your awareness to do so might just save you. Do not be ill-informed about your potential new workplace. Seek out their website, find them using Google Alerts, look them up on social media. What has this company been doing recently? Do they have any noteworthy achievements that you could highlight your awareness of? Knowledge equals interest; interest equals enthusiasm; enthusiasm breeds motivation. Lack of knowledge equals unsuccessful. Remember, you're not competing against your employer. You are competing against anywhere between roughly 1 and 50 other candidates for this job. At least one other is likely to have similar skills to you. And if the only thing that separates you and this other candidate is your awareness of the company's latest success, versus the other candidate's ignorance, then you will impress your employer. What employer does not want to hear that their company's good work is permeating the Internet world? Do not be lazy. Once you have your interview, get on the web and startling googling.

Do not make presumptions where a simple question could save you. So you've been offered a job interview. They are going to have certain expectations about the way you dress. Why gamble when you can just either phone them or send them an email? Do not wear anything offensive. Formal wear such as suit jacket, tie, shoes, shirts, blouses, formal trousers or skirts will usually be acceptable. Do not go for outlandish colours. There's a time for purple and orange. Your interview isn't it. Grey, black, white, and navy. A quirky, non-offensive tie will suffice.

Do not try to change the interview at a later date unless you have a very important reason. Lunch with friends is not a very important reason. Do not ask about finishing times. If you need to know about shifts, then ask are there flexible shift patterns in this role? Your question is no less transparent, but it is less blunt.

Do not ignore these tips. Do not forget to print it out and carry it with you everywhere. Do not feel like you cannot share it now that you're at the end. 

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