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What Not to Do at Your Job Interview

Don’t Get Fired Before You Get Hired

Do not get fired before you get hired. If you are in the process of conducting a job search, you may wish to consider some of the following ideas. Remember, the hiring decision is often made based solely on how well you interview, so interview well.

Do not take anyone with you. Taking someone with you makes you look weak.

Do not criticize former employers or co-workers. Your criticism reflects badly on you, not those whom you criticize. No one likes to be around negative people using weak excuses.

Do not talk about personal, domestic or financial problems. If asked these sorts of questions, keep your answers brief, factual and impersonal. If you have a black mark in your past, simply present the facts. Often when we are faced with negative challenges in life, one needs to look for the positives. Instead of saying that you left a company because you could not get along with your co-workers, look at what you learned while working for that particular organization. “I learned how to use XYZ software,” sounds better than “my co-workers were all jerks.”

Do not lean or put your hands on the employer’s desk; if you do, you are invading the interviewer’s territory. This is rude. Likewise, do not take a computer and use the employer’s desk for a computer desk. This happened to me recently, and I was so appalled I actually looked for ways to get this guy out of my office as quickly as possible. Obviously, this job search candidate was immediately eliminated from consideration.

Do not sit until you have been invited to do so, and please, do not sprawl in your chair. Sit up, shoulders back, and slightly forward to show interest, enthusiasm, and attention.

Do not give petty excuses for leaving a former employer. Excuses such as “the work was too hard,” and “the people I worked with were not nice” are not appropriate reasons for leaving a former employer.

Do not call yourself “Mr.” or “Miss.” These are titles that you must earn. Calling yourself by these titles may be considered somewhat gauche.

Do not mention a salary figure lower than you would be willing to accept. In fact, you as a job search candidate would be better served by not discussing money until you have leverage, and you don’t have leverage until the employer has decided that it is you that they wish to hire. In other words, when you have a definite job offer you have leverage. Then discuss salary. Easy? No. Can it be done? Usually.

Do not bury the interviewer with documents. A one-page résumé is best, a page and a half is okay. Two pages are borderline, and more than two pages is not appropriate, unless you are a PhD looking for a teaching position at a college or university and are using a CV “curriculum vitae” rather than a résumé.

Do not use slang, interrupt, or misrepresent yourself. And be sure to dress-up for the interview. Put forth your best presentation. Wear clothes that fit, and look professional. Gentlemen, comb your hair, shave, shine your shoes, pull up your trousers, and tuck-in your shirt. Ladies, ultra-short skirts and see-through clothing should be avoided. Make sure your clothes look freshly pressed and are spot-free. If you want to be at the management level of this company, dress like the managers of the company dress.

Do not play with your tie, handkerchief, rings, pencils or cell phones. And please – please! – never, ever, take a cell phone call during an interview. Make sure you turn off your cell phone before you enter the building. Better yet, leave it in your vehicle. The rudeness and insensitivity of using a cell phone during an interview could easily cost you consideration as a potential employee, and justifiably so.

Do not shake hands like a dead fish. Your handshake, along with your appearance and the first words out of your mouth, are important parts of your first impression. Your handshake should be firm and enthusiastic, not limp. You may wish to create a short “verbal résumé” to answer the first question you are likely to receive: “Tell me about yourself.” Keep your “verbal résumé” to no more than 60 seconds, preferably shorter.

Do not appear with the smell of liquor on your breath. If you are a smoker, use mouthwash before you go to the interview.

Do not chew gum, use profanity, or use strong aftershave, cologne, or perfume. Do not wear emblems, political buttons, or other insignia.

In summation, act like a lady or a gentleman. Sounds old-fashioned? Sure. Does it work? Yes.

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Do not get fired before you get hired. If you are in the process of conducting a job search, you may wish to consider some of the following ideas. Remember, the hiring decision is often made based solely on how well you interview, so interview well.

Do not take anyone with you. Taking someone with you makes you look weak.

Do not criticize former employers or co-workers. Your criticism reflects badly on you, not those whom you criticize. No one likes to be around negative people using weak excuses.

Do not talk about personal, domestic or financial problems. If asked these sorts of questions, keep your answers brief, factual and impersonal. If you have a black mark in your past, simply present the facts. Often when we are faced with negative challenges in life, one needs to look for the positives. Instead of saying that you left a company because you could not get along with your co-workers, look at what you learned while working for that particular organization. “I learned how to use XYZ software,” sounds better than “my co-workers were all jerks.”

Do not lean or put your hands on the employer’s desk; if you do, you are invading the interviewer’s territory. This is rude. Likewise, do not take a computer and use the employer’s desk for a computer desk. This happened to me recently, and I was so appalled I actually looked for ways to get this guy out of my office as quickly as possible. Obviously, this job search candidate was immediately eliminated from consideration.

Do not sit until you have been invited to do so, and please, do not sprawl in your chair. Sit up, shoulders back, and slightly forward to show interest, enthusiasm, and attention.

Do not give petty excuses for leaving a former employer. Excuses such as “the work was too hard,” and “the people I worked with were not nice” are not appropriate reasons for leaving a former employer.

Do not call yourself “Mr.” or “Miss.” These are titles that you must earn. Calling yourself by these titles may be considered somewhat gauche.

Do not mention a salary figure lower than you would be willing to accept. In fact, you as a job search candidate would be better served by not discussing money until you have leverage, and you don’t have leverage until the employer has decided that it is you that they wish to hire. In other words, when you have a definite job offer you have leverage. Then discuss salary. Easy? No. Can it be done? Usually.

Do not bury the interviewer with documents. A one-page résumé is best, a page and a half is okay. Two pages are borderline, and more than two pages is not appropriate, unless you are a PhD looking for a teaching position at a college or university and are using a CV “curriculum vitae” rather than a résumé.

Do not use slang, interrupt, or misrepresent yourself. And be sure to dress-up for the interview. Put forth your best presentation. Wear clothes that fit, and look professional. Gentlemen, comb your hair, shave, shine your shoes, pull up your trousers, and tuck-in your shirt. Ladies, ultra-short skirts and see-through clothing should be avoided. Make sure your clothes look freshly pressed and are spot-free. If you want to be at the management level of this company, dress like the managers of the company dress.

Do not play with your tie, handkerchief, rings, pencils or cell phones. And please – please! – never, ever, take a cell phone call during an interview. Make sure you turn off your cell phone before you enter the building. Better yet, leave it in your vehicle. The rudeness and insensitivity of using a cell phone during an interview could easily cost you consideration as a potential employee, and justifiably so.

Do not shake hands like a dead fish. Your handshake, along with your appearance and the first words out of your mouth, are important parts of your first impression. Your handshake should be firm and enthusiastic, not limp. You may wish to create a short “verbal résumé” to answer the first question you are likely to receive: “Tell me about yourself.” Keep your “verbal résumé” to no more than 60 seconds, preferably shorter.

Do not appear with the smell of liquor on your breath. If you are a smoker, use mouthwash before you go to the interview.

Do not chew gum, use profanity, or use strong aftershave, cologne, or perfume. Do not wear emblems, political buttons, or other insignia.

In summation, act like a lady or a gentleman. Sounds old-fashioned? Sure. Does it work? Yes.

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