The worst things you can do in a job interview

How can a candidate best prepare for a job interview? What’s the worst thing they can do in a job interview scenario?

When Newsweek posed those questions to Stacey Perkins, a career adviser at consulting firm Korn Kerry, one thing immediately occurred to her.

“I’m not preparing myself,” he said. “Just showing up and thinking they’re going to get this, but not doing research on the company. Research is the first thing you want to do. I’ve literally been asked in the middle of an interview. ‘What are you doing here? You need to know what you’re getting into.’ sticking in. The company wants to know you’re interested.”

Communicate in an interview

First impressions still count a lot. Perkins reminded an interviewee that he committed nearly every deadly sin in the book from the moment they walked through the door.

“They walked in, they barely looked at me and they did this little, you could call it a handshake, but they barely touched my fingertips and they didn’t make eye contact. They just looked at the ground most of the time,” she said.

Things got worse from there. “They kept looking at her resume,” she said. “It’s okay to bring a resume for reference, but they literally spent the entire time looking at her resume.”

As Perkins explained, a potential employer will already be well informed of a candidate’s experience in the role. “They’re looking for a little more,” she said. ‘How do you communicate? This is an opportunity to really show what you’ve got and dig a little deeper into that resume.”

The candidate had also clearly not prepared himself. When asked why they wanted to work there, he said they responded, “Well, I saw a job offer and thought I’d take it.” Worse yet, they didn’t actually know what “it” was. “When I started talking about what we do, they were like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not sure I want to do that,'” he said.

A woman shaking hands during a job interview: trust remains crucial for success in the job market.

bad interview questions

Perkins said it’s crucial for candidates to practice asking questions and think about their possible response with some candidates guilty of “rambling” to “fill up time.” She adds: “When someone asks you why you want to work there, don’t say ‘I just need a job.'” Why do you want to work for that organization? It has to be something better.”

There are more obvious things to avoid, such as any use of profanity. “Even if the interviewer uses some of that language,” she said. “It can be offensive and as a result I have seen the conversation end quickly.”

Likewise, he advises candidates to avoid “tearing apart” their previous employer. “I was interviewing someone, when he was a human resources manager for a retailer,” Perkins said. “It was something that was coming from another retailer, and the person just started talking about all the horrible things about HR, and these policies and all these things at this other retailer. Well, we were owned by the same company. We also had exactly the same human resource policies.

Overconfidence in interviews

While confidence is “critical” to a successful interview, Perkins has experienced candidates who came in feeling overconfident.

“You just walked in very arrogant. They knew they had the job. When they walked in the door,” he said. “Everything that came out of her mouth was about how great they were and this last company really screwed her by letting them go,” she said. “Then he trashed them and all the bad things they were doing. He said it was okay because they were basically screwing him and he didn’t need to be there.” Unbelievably, when they didn’t get the job, the candidate ended up emailing him to say that he “made a mistake not hiring them.”

It is something of an unwritten rule that any good candidate comes prepared with questions to ask at the end of the interview. But according to Perkins, there is such a thing as a bad question. “Literally someone asked me what would do the job,” she said. “That’s an instant no for me.”

Perkins added: “Even asking, ‘how many vacations do I have?’ Sometimes that can be interpreted as ‘I don’t want to work so hard.

He also cautioned against asking about the possible career path of the job. “Ambition is good, but it’s how you ask. It can sound a bit bossy or arrogant if you say it the wrong way. So maybe something like ‘What’s this career like?’ Or ‘What’s growth like in this role?'”

What not to say in an interview

For Jennifer Finlay, senior partner at executive recruiting search firm Lucas Group, candidates should avoid any extraneous personal information that won’t benefit you in the interview.

“We are all human, even as much as we try not to be biased. We just have this human element behind us and the experiences, bad and good, that make up who we are,” he said. news week. “So if I’m a hiring manager, and let’s say you share with me how excited you are about your upcoming marriage and I’m in the middle of a terrible divorce, it’s just going to bring up some bias.” no matter how hard I try and fill them in.”

How to dress for an interview

Finlay also advises against taking “creative liberties” when it comes to your interview outfit.

“I groomed a candidate to go to an interview in Dallas, Texas. These people are in quarries and mines, even though they’re salesmen, wearing steel-toed boots and sitting on the backs of back doors of trucks,” he explained. “My candidate showed up in a suit and a scarf,” she said. “When she walked in the door, my hiring manager said ‘this is not a cultural fit.'”

Be honest with your resume

She believes it’s also crucial for candidates to be honest, particularly when it comes to their background and experience.

“I had a candidate that we moved through the whole process,” Finlay said. “We were at the offer stage and ready to do the background check when I got called with what is every recruiter’s worst nightmare.”

“He had lied about his degree for 20 years on his resume claiming he had a two-year arts degree,” he said. She told him to contact the prospective employer directly and come clean. “Don’t lie on your resume. We now have too many resources to investigate such falsehoods.”

Although in that case the candidate ended up getting the job anyway, others have been less fortunate after withholding information. Finlay reminded one client that he had seemed ready to take a job until a last-minute question derailed everything. “They asked him, ‘Do you have any kind of restrictive or non-competition covenant?’ and he pulled it out. He wasn’t going to offer that unless someone asked him to.”

She said that if she had known, then she might have been able to deal with the situation. However, the candidate’s actions “planted the seeds of doubt” and the offer was rescinded, with the prospective employer finding that he had been “misleading in withholding information.”

A man being interviewed by computer.
A stock photo of a man being interviewed by computer: Remote work has changed the way interviews are conducted, but a candidate needs to approach it the same way.

What not to do in virtual interviews

Richard Deosingh, district president of global human resources consultancy Robert Half, points out that there are new obstacles in the age of remote work and virtual meetings.

“You have to have a professional approach,” he said. news week. “Test your gear, make sure your virtual interview background is light, clean, or cloudy. Make sure it’s well-lit around you so your interview doesn’t look like you’re in the shadows.”

In his experience, it’s crucial that candidates treat a virtual interview the same way they would an in-person meeting. Arrive early, dress nicely, and have questions ready.

He knows many candidates who make a mistake when dressing appropriately. Deosingh believes that proper interview attire is a crucial part of researching and preparing for an interview. “Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn. Look up other employees at the company. See how they present themselves there because that’s a professional network.”

Avoid ‘canned questions’ in interviews

When it comes to the interview itself, Deosingh is wary of candidates who ask “canned questions” at the end of an interview. Canned questions are standard common queries that employers will have heard countless times.

“During an interview it’s about how you differentiate yourself from the other candidates. So something like ‘How would you describe the work environment?’ or ‘Can you tell me what an average day would be like?’ For me they are canned questions.

“While it’s important to ask, you should try to set yourself up differently. Some questions I recommend candidates ask are things like ‘how do you measure success in this opportunity?’ or ‘Tell me about the tools and resources available to me to do my job effectively.'”

He sees the opportunity to ask questions as an opportunity not only to get a better evaluation of the job, but also to separate himself from others and close the interview with a bang.

How not to answer interview questions

Deosingh is wary of candidates who make jokes when answering questions. “It’s okay to show a bit of humor in your answers, but don’t go overboard or the interviewer might think you’re unprepared and it’s all a joke.”

He also believes that one of the biggest mistakes an interviewee can make comes when they are asked about their strengths and weaknesses. “A weakness doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional weakness,” she said. “A weakness can be something as simple as I love cheesecake. And my doctor doesn’t seem to think that’s a good idea and you know, I’m trying to avoid it.”

Above all, he said it’s important to accept that mistakes will be made in an interview. “It’s human nature,” Deosingh said. “Don’t dwell on it. The longer you dwell on it, the more it will impact the rest of the interview.” She advises candidates to be aware of the error and address it with the interviewer when the opportunity to ask questions arises. “There’s always a time to go back and pick yourself up if you feel like you’ve slipped up.”

A woman looking nervous in an interview.
A stock photo of a woman looking nervous in an interview: From bad attitudes to bad questions, a lot can and will go wrong in an interview.
Global Stock/Getty

Leave a Comment