Before I ventured off on the “Mommy Track”, I held management positions in both the retail and staffing industries. I’ve conducted many interviews for a wide variety of positions, from forklift drivers and retail clerks, to mid-level executives. Some people were wonderful to interview! They answered questions honestly and directly. They were respectful and enthusiastic about the positions they were applying for. Others…..were not! They seemed to go out of their way to sabotage their interviews! It is in their honor that I have compiled the following slightly cheeky list of what NOT to do during an interview. Each tip on the list is based on a real life interview faux pas. Some sound advice is added to the mix also. Enjoy and take heed!
1. Don’t Wear A Fluorescent Purple Suit To An Interview…Unless You’re Looking For Work In A Vegas Venue!
Okay, so not many of us would be this bold! However, it does drive home the point that you have to dress appropriately for the position you are interviewing for. Most of the time, this means to dress moderately. You don’t want your choice of clothing to take the interviewer’s attention away from your qualifications and personality. The interviewer is trying to ascertain if you would be a good fit for their company. Depending on the position you are applying for, the interviewer may want to be able to picture you meeting their clients or representing their company in other various ways. If you wear clothing that goes against the grain of how the employees of the company dress, you can really handicap your ability to get the job.
One man I interviewed was a classic example of someone oblivious to the “dress appropriately” rule. I was managing a staffing agency at the time. One of our clients was a warehouse that was looking for forklift drivers. I was to do the initial interviews to weed out poor candidates and then my client would conduct follow up interviews with the people I felt would be strong candidates for the positions available. My first interview was with a man who literally showed up wearing a fluorescent purple suit with matching cowboy boots! My initial reaction was to think of how embarrassed I would be if I sent this man to interview with my very conservative, blue-collar client. Luckily for my interviewee, it was me (not my client) conducting the initial interview…and he had excellent forklift experience! I gave him a few pointers about the company and how to appropriately dress for the follow up interview with the warehouse. He heeded my advice and got the job! Not everyone is lucky enough to get a second chance, though! Finding out a little bit about the company’s culture and seeking fashion advice from a knowledgeable source in advance can really help to make sure you give the right impression in an interview!
2. Don’t Insult The Clientele
In other words, truly think about how you are answering the interviewer’s questions. Try not to let personal views taint your conversation with the interviewer. I once interviewed a woman for a retail clerk position. I was managing a computer software store at the time and most of my clientele (and all of my staff) were men. From the start to the (dead) end of the interview, the woman made insulting comments about men! Unprovoked, she volunteered that she could do anything better than a man, she didn’t need a man, etc. When I mentioned that most of my customers and my entire staff were men, she didn’t back down!! She just stated that even though she didn’t like them, she’d work with and sell to them if she had to! Needless to say, I cut the interview short and did not hire her!
3. Don’t Insult The Job You Are Applying For
Stay respectful and enthusiastic about the position at all times during the interview. It may be an interview for a position that you aren’t so crazy about, but a job is a job! Your goal is to get the job, not impress the interviewer with stories of the last wonderful job you had (and lost) and how beneath you the job you are interviewing for really is. This is precisely what one gentleman did while interviewing for the same retail clerk position the “man-hater” applied for. He was an out of work computer programmer. He wanted to take the “simple” retail clerk job for “something to do” while he searched for another well paying job in the computer industry. He stated that this “lowly” position was truly not good enough for him, but he would give it a whirl (at least he was honest). He also interrogated me! He asked me why I was asking so many interview questions for such a simple job opening. I had asked him a total of 3 questions. I ended the interview as soon as I could.
4.Stay On Topic…The Interviewer Does Not Need To Know About Your Sex Life…Or Lack Thereof
Please, answer the specific questions the interviewer asks…and don’t elaborate too much! There is definitely such a thing as TMI (Too Much Information) when it comes to sharing personal stuff in an interview. Stick to talking about the position, your attitude toward work, anything remotely professional. Some people….don’t. I might have been guilty of asking a question that was way too open-ended to one person who felt the need to share a little too much with me. To break the ice at the beginning of the interview, I mentioned that I noticed he was new to our city and asked him how he liked it so far. I expected him to say something short and sweet like, “It’s great”, and then we would get on with the interview. Instead, I got the entire lowdown on how lonely he was and that he was separated from his girlfriend, etc. I was a rookie interviewer at the time, so I may have let him talk way longer than I should have. I just…couldn’t…stop him!! It really ruined the rest of the interview because he seemed to feel very comfortable with sharing other personal information with me when I asked him questions pertaining specifically to his professional life. Remember…no matter how comfortable you feel with the interviewer, giving too much personal information may make you look very unprofessional.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this little list of what NOT to do in an interview! Just remember…if you want to win that job….leave the flashy purple suit at home!