Traditional career advice generally focuses on what a candidate should say in an interview, but often leaves out what landmines and behaviors to avoid. To make a great first impression, there are certain taboos a job seeker should refrain from mentioning in their initial meeting with a prospective employer.
Interviewers want candidates interested in the company and the job they applied for. As thousands of people have been laid off recently, hiring managers get that job hunters will shotgun their résumés everywhere to get a foot in the door. They may not care about the organization, its mission, corporate culture and products and services, but just want a job.
When you interview, make sure you demonstrate you took the time and effort to learn about the organization, its reputation, financial situation, management team and other factors. Doing your due diligence shows that you want to work at the company and have a connection to it.
It won't go well if you lack basic knowledge about the job and company. The interviewers will feel that you couldn't care less if you got the job here or with any other firm.
You must abstain from talking negatively about your former employer or ever making an off-color joke. Avoid immediately demanding the exact compensation, vacation and personal time off and how quickly you’ll get promoted. It will never go well if you arrive late to a meeting without an apology or tell the interviewer to revert to your résumé for any questions about your background or experience. You mustn’t be rude to staff when checking in for your interview, as it will surely get back to the hiring personnel.
Ingratiating Yourself With The Interviewer
In your meeting, take the lead by saying, “Thank you for inviting me to the interview. I’m excited to be here. I’ve done a lot of research into your firm, spoken with people who previously worked at the firm and purchased some of your products to test them out.” By doing this, the interviewer will be impressed with your homework and interest in the company.
While you want to know all about the compensation and benefits, hold off until later. The key is cultivating a relationship with the interviewer and demonstrating that you have the right skills, background, experience and education. Toward the end of the meeting, you can then dig into the salary, bonus, title, vacation policy and benefits.
If you demonstrate a lack of knowledge about what the company does, the interviewer will feel that—at the very least—you could have spent a reasonable amount of time researching the company before the interview. It reflects that you actually have no interest and are not intellectually curious. You don’t need to be an expert on the firm, quote their financial statements and name all the people on the board of directors, but you should know a modicum of information about the company's products and services.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
You can be friendly, but avoid getting too cordial. Sometimes an interview is going very well and it transcends from a cold, stuffy interrogation into a cordial, friendly conversation. At times, the friendly conversation blossoms into a bonding session. Then, it's easy to get carried away. Without realizing it, you let your guard down, drop some curse words, say something politically incorrect or make an off-colored joke. Don't fall into the trap. The interviewer may view you as a nice person to have dinner with, but not see you as a trusted and discreet employee.
Avoid asking very personal and invasive questions. In the first interview, you want to showcase your skills and abilities. I know that it's not fair, but if you start interrogating the interviewers, they will be put off. This could be done later on.
Only Say Good Things About Your Former Employer And Co-Workers
Your former boss may be the Devil incarnate and your co-workers vapid, gossiping weasels, but don’t share that with the interviewers. If you talk poorly about your last company (even if it's true), you’ll be considered malcontent and a person who talks about others behind their backs, which also means you can't be trusted. The interviewer will think that you’ll also talk bad about them. Furthermore, they may believe that the issues emanated from you and it was your fault—not your prior boss or colleagues.
Use Your Common Sense And Be Polite
When asked about your background or skills, never say, “It’s on my résumé.” This is a weird quirk in that the person feels that they are so wonderful that you should immediately know everything about them. This warped logic doesn't have an end game. Should the interviewer hire them just because their résumé is solid? No matter what level you are at, you have to elaborate on your background and sell yourself.
You should never say, “Sorry, I’m late” or “I have a hard stop and must leave in half an hour.” Sometimes things happen; however, it is rude to arrive late to an important interview. If you know that you are pressed for time, then you should have either told them that ahead of time or rescheduled the interview for a later date.
Speak Like A Human Being And Not A Corporate Drone
You may think speaking in corporate buzzwords, jargon and clichés makes you sound important and in the know, but for the person listening, it is painful. It is mind-numbing to hear someone endlessly pontificate about how important they are. It's worse when they sound like a corporate robot instead of an actual human being.
Moreover, don't be rude to the receptionist and other assistants. They will report back to the hiring managers about your bad behavior. The managers will think you are a phony when you are nice to them, but cruel to subordinates. Also, it would be an affront to the people you were rude to if management was to hire you.
Jack Kelly - I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am passionate about advocating for job seekers. In doing so, I have founded a start-up company, WeCruitr, where our mission is to make the job search more humane and enjoyable. As a proponent of career growth, I am excited to share my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and entertaining manner. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real-world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.