How not to suck in your job interview

Posted by: Paul  /   Category: Interviewing / Leadership   /   No Comments

It’s a competitive workplace landscape out there. Getting an interview depends on many things going right beforehand including having an awesome resume and investing in yourself so that you have compelling experience. Now you have secured an interview! You have piqued the curiosity of the company you want to work at! So, when you get to the interview, avoid saying or doing these key 5 things so that you remain in contention for the job that you want.

Don’t come to the interview and look or act unprofessional
Make sure when you arrive at your interview that you look and smell as awesome as you can. I’m not telling you companies only hire the beautiful people but interviewers will form subconscious opinions about you. If you smoke, don’t smoke in the car on the way down and don’t have a cigarette right before the interview. Consume a breath mint before the interview. If you look disheveled or smell funky (or assault their nose because you’ve doused yourself in cologne or perfume) then plan on not getting the job. Dress as well or better than the interviewer and for the part you are applying for.  Ask the interviewer for his card at the end of the interview. Email him a note that same day thanking the interviewer for his time and for being considered for the opportunity. Don’t come in with a coffee or other drink, don’t chew gum and whatever you do, turn off the ringer to your phone. 

Don’t present yourself as a pain in the ass
The work world is all about collaboration and teamwork. Your would-be boss needs to be convinced that you will do a great job and be a positive addition to the company. So, be careful about the questions you ask in an interview such as how much vacation you will be getting, what the sick leave policy is and what the perks of the job are. If you are environmentally conscious, don’t ask what their recycling policy is. Be positive about your outlook, no one likes to be around negative people. If you are asked what you do for fun, make sure what you say is socially responsible. While being in an axe throwing league may be awesome, your interviewer may interpret that the wrong way. Make sure you mention things you like to do that require social interaction.

Don’t start the conversation about money
You know that you are going to get paid for this job should you get it. You know approximately what the salary range is for the role you are applying for. No interviewer is thinking “hmmm, I bet this guy will work for free” when they are interviewing you. When you avoid talking about money, you leave the interviewer with the impression that you are there more for the great opportunity to work for his company than what you can get out of it personally. Also, when the company has decided that you are the candidate they have to have, your ability to negotiate the best deal for you increases substantially.

Don’t lack integrity
I’m just going to give some quick bullet points for this but it’s far from a complete list.

  • If I catch someone in a lie, I will end the job interview immediately. If I can’t trust you I cannot work with you. If you are telling the truth, you can never go too far wrong. It’s okay to be honest and tell an interviewer that you don’t know how to do something but that you are hardworking and quick to pick up things and that you would learn it in your personal time or that you do know how to do something very similar and that the skills will translate.
  • Don’t bad mouth your last boss or company. Instead talk about the challenging environment and what you learned from it – but be positive.
  • Never, ever, ever offer to give less notice to your current company than what is socially acceptable for your role and location. Not giving your soon-to-be former employer proper notice lacks professionalism and that will likely send off some warning bells that you aren’t the kind of person they want to hire.

Don’t think you can just breeze in and own the interview without preparing
Prepare everything in advance. Know what you will be wearing. Shine your shoes the night before. Bring Kleenex, breath mints and at least 3 copies of your resume in a folder. Know the route to where you will be interviewing. Know the name of your interviewer. Plan to arrive in the area 30 minutes ahead of time. Know all about the company you are interviewing with. Practice the top 200 questions that interviewers ask. Preparedness is key to getting the job you want.

Any of these interview blunders will result in you not getting the job you want. The cruel reality is that employers get to hire who they want, and yes it’s not fair that you are more qualified than someone else but still didn’t get the job. If you want your dream job, impress the people that are hiring! Remember that getting the job you want often times requires different skills than doing the job. Try these things and you will stand out above the crowd. Good luck!


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About the Author

I'm Paul Birkbeck and I am the VP of Software Development and Operations at SPS Commerce. I love building and leading teams and genuinely love interacting with the people whom I work.

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