Job Interview Don’ts

I’ve interviewed many people lately for a variety of jobs at different levels. After this experience, I thought I would share with you some “don’t”s I’ve witnessed. You might think these are obvious, but I’m not so sure:

If you’re the interviewee:

  1. Don’t wear a vendor swag shirt (even if it does have a collar) to a job interview. Actually, don’t wear anything with a logo.
  2. Don’t answer your cell phone during an interview. Yeah, that’s right.
  3. Don’t provide your current salary and ask if we can beat it before we’ve interviewed you. Different jobs in different locations are should probably pay different amounts.
  4. Don’t complain about your current job. You don’t want to look like a whiner.
  5. Don’t badmouth your current employer. This makes you seem ungrateful or, at least, unprofessional.
  6. Don’t say the reason you want to work for us is because you want to be close to your children. It’s nice to know you have family nearby, but c’mon. Don’t you want to work for us? Don’t you, like, want this job?

If you’re the interviewer:

  1. Prepare some questions in advance.
  2. Schedule time for the candidate to meet with folks outside your particular group.
  3. Make sure the candidate has substantial break time (for a daylong visit) and that food’s available during the break. Often, s/he can’t really eat during the group lunch because s/he’s forced to answer a bunch of questions.
  4. Be nice. Even if you think the candidate’s a dud. Just be nice. Please. Thank you.
  5. Don’t answer your phone during the interview, check your email, or do anything other than interview the candidate. If you can interview the candidate in 15 minutes and don’t need the full hour or whatever, that’s fine. Just Be Nice.
  6. Don’t pick your teeth with a handy nearby business card during the interview. Actually, don’t ever do this. Ever.

13 Responses to “Job Interview Don’ts”

  1. jaeger said:

    Jun 26, 08 at 8:19 pm

    Um. Oops.

  2. g-lo said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 5:30 am

    what else am I supposed to do with those business cards?

  3. Your Mother said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 6:37 am

    Your Mom is very happy about the be nice part. A long time ago I was part of a Gallop Poll and was asked if I thought I was attractive. I paused the right amount of time and answered yes. The interviewer asked why I thought that. Another pause and I said, because I’m nice. The interviewer laughed real hard and said I’m sorry I laughed but no one’s ever said that before.

  4. Kyle said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 7:31 am

    Another candidate don’t. Don’t swear during the interview. I’ve had two of those in my career, and neither got hired. Of course our blog host turned around and hired one of them later. Guess the candidate didn’t cuss the second time around. ‘-)

    Oh, and don’t scare the existing staff. You don’t tend to get hired if you bully, intimidate, and generally freak out your potential co-workers.

    And one for the interviewer. Don’t forget the campus tour. It can be short, and even a drive by, but in many cases the physical environment is an important part of the appeal, it gives context for the candidate, and shows you are proud of where you work.

  5. rufusb said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 8:29 am

    I have a BIG one. Do not lie about your salary. Good hiring managers will find you out.

  6. essprit said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 12:23 pm

    As a corollary to interviewee item #6, if you’re an out of town candidate, don’t ask the search committee at the obligatory dinner if we know who the best mortgage broker is locally, and don’t ramble on at length (or at all) how difficult it will be to decide between a home in neighborhood A or B. 🙂

  7. Sukey said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 3:05 pm

    I recommend putting your requirements and questions into some kind of lyrical arrangement, an idea I got from watching the performance of this lovely verse extolling Open Source Library OPACS.

  8. admin said:

    Jun 27, 08 at 5:00 pm

    These comments are great. This should be a running list.

    I particularly like:

    a. The way this has become self confessional, e.g. hey, what about the time they asked me my current salary and I was so confused I gave them my monthly take home. What a nightmare! So, always know how much you make on an annual basis.

    b. The way Sukey always manages to morph the theme into something vaguely relevant to whatever youtube video she wants to spam us with 🙂

  9. JP said:

    Jul 01, 08 at 6:39 am

    Here’s another tip: Generally, avoid extremely strident opinions. Specifically, find out a little bit about the place your interviewing for, and try not dis’ what the employer is currently doing (uness you feel *really* strongly about it, in which case, don’t apply!).

    You may remember this, admin:

    We did some interviews about four years ago for a position in my division. My manager came down for the interviews and we talked informally to one particular candidate at lunch. She ask the candidate if he had any experience with Active Directory, since she knew my group was running AD for authentication. “OH! I’d NEVER inflict THAT on MY users!!!” he scoffed. Me and boss lady just looked at each other and smiled. I don’t think he ever knew how badly he stepped in it.

    He had several other howling boners of arrogance that day, and there was no way I was going recommend him for the job. We gave the job to another candidate, who had less experience, but an attitude that was a million times better. I never regretted it for a second.

  10. admin said:

    Jul 01, 08 at 5:12 pm

    Oh man, I’d forgotten about that. While you want to avoid expressing strident opinions (unless your goal is to alienate people), as the interviewer you should remember that it’s usually easier for a staff member to learn new tech skills than it is to learn things like “don’t be an ass.” Classic!

  11. etselec said:

    Jul 06, 08 at 4:08 pm

    Another don’t for the interviewee: Don’t get up out of your chair, sit on the back of it with your feet on the seat, and start rocking precariously on the back two legs of the chair. It’s too weird, primarily, but also may make people question your mental state and/or your workplace injury liability.

  12. g-lo said:

    Aug 14, 08 at 4:28 pm

    What you really need is a public facing blog where you post the cleansed versions of posts like this one.

  13. g-lo said:

    Aug 14, 08 at 4:29 pm

    Just don’t quote/identify anyone here and have your public-facing blog be tied to you as an individual (i’d say personal branding but it’s so frickin overused). Just call everyone your source.

    No one is here that doesn’t love you and would be pissed that you didn’t identify them.

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