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Job Interview Tips: Top 10 Don’ts

A woman who could have used some job interview tips

The internet is awash in job interview tips. We ourselves have covered many of the dos and don’ts that make for a positive job interview, including what to be particularly mindful of during it. However, this time, we really wanted to focus on the don’ts – what not to do in a job interview because any one of these mistakes can sabotage a good candidate’s chances regardless of how well everything else went. So remember:

  1. Don’t arrive late

    This one’s a classic – and for good reason. Not being punctual isn’t only inconsiderate, but it will make the interviewer wonder if you’ll always be late. Sometimes things happen: subways get delayed, traffic stops, weather explodes. Always have the interviewer’s phone number and your cell phone at hand so that, should the job interview gods try to spoil your plans, you can call give the interviewer a heads-up.

  2. Don’t dress inappropriately

    This can mean anything from dressing too casually to too provocatively – and that also means going easy on the cologne or perfume, makeup, and jewelry. Clothing has a larger impact on people’s psychology than many realize, so stick to the classics: grey or navy blue suit.

  3. Don’t badmouth former employers or coworkers

    When you speak ill of others, you sound spiteful, generally unpleasant, and you give your potential employer every reason to think you’re a negative person who would talk badly about them behind their backs. Even if the corporate culture you’re currently in isn’t all that great, focus on the positive things you’ve learned from being in it as wells as all the things you think you can learn with the organization you’re interviewing with.

  4. Don’t trail off and ramble

    Almost sounds like a sad country song. When faced with a question you aren’t quite sure how to answer, it’s easy to wander off in the hopes that something you say will meet the interviewer’s needs. Some people even employ this as a strategy to dodge the question and focus on something they know is positive. Some may even meander into casual, unrelated and uncomfortably familiar conversation. But the interviewer doesn’t forget the question they asked. Stay on topic, be honest about your experiences and knowledge, stress your eagerness to learn in the face of something you don’t know, and remember to let the interview always lead the discussion.

  5. Don’t be unprepared

    Do some research on the organization you’re meeting with, review the job posting you applied to, think of questions they may ask you, and rehearse what you would say if asked those questions. Anything less makes you look like you have no real interest in working there.

  6. Don’t chew gum

    Don’t risk being that person, whose constant noshing and smacking distracts everyone in the room. We all want to ensure that our breath is fresh before we speak to someone, especially in a job interview. But remember to get rid of it, preferably before you even talk to the receptionist. And if you forget? Swallow it. According to the Mayo Clinic, while it’s true that you can’t digest gum, adults needn’t worry about it getting stuck in their systems. Nature will take its course.

  7. Don’t fidget

    People fidget when they get nervous. Whether it’s playing with a pen or twiddling your thumbs, fidgeting betrays your fears to the interviewer who may then question your honesty and/or your ability to handle pressure. Still, there’s no need to feel ashamed about being nervous. It’s natural, and there are natural ways to calm yourself down: get a good night’s sleep, have something in your stomach, make sure you’ve prepared for the job interview (see number 5 above), control your breathing, and remember that not getting the job is not the end of the world.

  8. Don’t answer your phone

    Umm…You’re in a job interview. Turn it off. And if you forget to and it rings, apologize immediately, turn it off right then and there, and continue the interview.

  9. Don’t forget copies of your resume

    Typically, your interviewer(s) will have printed out copies for themselves, but having a couple extra on-hand just in case they’ve forgotten theirs conveys that you think of everything.

  10. Don’t forget to say thanks and follow up

    Chances are you’ll remember to say thanks after the interview is over, particularly since the interviewer may even thank you for your time first. But remember to send a follow up email that thanks them once more for their time. The message doesn’t need to be long. The fact that you took the time to do it reinforces your interest in the role.

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