Things Not to Do at a Job Interview

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When you’re interviewing for a job, there are a lot of things you should do to ensure interview success. There are also some things that you shouldn’t do if you want to get selected for a second interview or get a job offer.

Employers are evaluating more than your words during the interview process.    Your actions and non-verbal expressions tell a lot about your character, and if you aren't careful, they can send the wrong message to your interviewers.


Review these tips to help you make sure that your actions measure up to your words during the interviewing experience.  

15 Things Not to Do at a Job Interview

1. Do not arrive late.  Prepare your travel carefully and leave a cushion for unexpected delays.  Arriving late can be a deal breaker and create the impression that you might be an irresponsible employee.

2. Don't arrive too early for your interview and force yourself to sit nervously in full view in a waiting area.  Plan to arrive no more than 10 minutes earlier than your interview appointment time. You can grab a cup of coffee nearby if you get there earlier than you expected.

3. Don't forget to smile.  All things being equal, most employers want pleasant co-workers.

4. Don't ignore the gatekeepers.  Even the lowliest receptionist or administrative worker may be asked his opinion about the impression you have made.  Engage everyone you meet, and make them feel very important.

5. Do not leave your cell phone on during the interview, or glance at it at all.  Most of us are semi-addicted to those messages and alerts coming into our phone, so knock out the temptation by silencing your cell.  If your phone is a distraction during the interview, employers may question how motivated you are about the job or if you will spend too much time on the phone if hired.

6. Do not lean back, slouch or display disinterest through your posture.  Lean slightly forward to engage your interviewer (s) and show an interest in what they are saying.

7. Don’t speak in a monotone.  Modulate your voice to show emphasis and excitement when making a point. Employers look for energetic and engaged employees.  

8. Do not look at your watch.  If you monitor the time in an obvious way, it might be perceived as an indication that you are bored, or in a hurry.  

9. Do not eat a snack bar or any food during a traditional interview.  This should go without saying, but stories from recruiters abound regarding candidates who have pulled some food out of their pocket. Same goes for gum or mints. Gum chewing can send an overly casual vibe and be distracting to the interviewer.

10. Don’t order something which is difficult to eat during an interview meal.  It is hard to maintain your dignity while slurping pasta.  Order a small portion which can be gracefully consumed. Avoid ordering alcoholic beverages during social segments of the interview process.

  Alcohol can loosen your tongue in the wrong way.  In addition, it can send the wrong message about your seriousness of purpose. Here’s how to handle an interview at a restaurant.

11. Don't dress too casually. Err on the side of overdressing to demonstrate that you are serious about the opportunity. Review these tips for what to wear to an interview so you’re dressed appropriately.

12. Do not forget to listen carefully before answering.  Listening is an underrated interviewing skill.  Make sure you know what your interviewer is driving at before you launch into an answer.  Here are tips for listening and responding during an interview.

13. Don't act nervous or dejected if things aren't going perfectly.  Retaining your confidence when you are stumped by a question can demonstrate that you will work well under pressure.  Saying confidently that the question is a great one and that you will need to give it further thought to answer it fully is acceptable.  Review what to do if you can’t answer an interview question, so you don’t panic if it happens.

14. Don't reflect an angry tone in your voice if your interviewer has taken a combative stance.  Stress questions can be a test of how you will retain your composure under fire.  Maintain a civil tone at all times.  

15. Do not unintentionally play favorites during group interview situations.  There is a natural tendency for most of us to feel a stronger chemistry with one or more of our interviewers than the others. You might look at the comfortable person more often or address your answers or questions to her more frequently.  Make a deliberate effort to focus equally on each of your interviewers since it is likely that each of them will carry weight in the decision-making process. Here’s how to handle a group interview.

Read More: 25 Things Never to Say at an Interview | 9 Things Not to Wear at an Interview

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