As of late, I’ve seen a few articles on interview techniques and tips. In fact, come to think of it, I ALWAYS see articles on interview techniques and tips. I’m guilty of it myself. Someofthe first articles I wrote was about interview techniques and tips. It was also where I discovered I really quite enjoy this whole written word thingy.
I’m writing a bit more about interviews now (lucky you!). This one comes with a bit more of a negative twist though, because it’s time to riff off the things you really, really shouldn’t be doing in an interview.
Interview Dress Code
I spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out a “funny” title for this section. Distressing Dressing? No, that’s too cringe-worthy. DisDressing? No, it just looks like I’m incapable of spelling.
Anyone with any ideas, drop me a line.
Dressing incorrectly for your interview might not always cost you the job, but it certainly helps if you make the effort to do it right. See, the general idea that you hear a lot is to dress in the clothes you ‘would wear to work’ at the company. Your judgement on this is what makes or breaks you there.
In an agency, we tend not to be too concerned with what you wear when you come to see us (some agencies do, so bear that in mind). But an interview for a potential job is a different beast. A t-shirt and jeans, in most cases, is a no-no.
No, not even that really nice t-shirt. Some people see this as obvious, some people don’t. There’s a reason I’m writing this.
If you don’t know what to wear, reasonably formal is a nice middle ground (shirts and blouses people, shirts and blouses!). In almost any industry I can think of, a shirt/blouse, trousers and maybe even a tie goes down well. If you turn up wearing this outfit and feel under/overdressed, don’t stress too much! Approach it, apologise for it, and make light of it. No one is angry for you wearing a shirt and tie. Any more questions?
No, there’s nothing wrong with makeup.
No, there’s nothing wrong with no makeup either. If a workplace has issues with you not wearing makeup, you’ve dodged a bullet working for them anyway.
And no, I don’t care that it’s Gucci. NO T-SHIRTS.
These titles are killing me.
So, your grandfather, dad, teacher, or someone probably told you that a strong handshake is the marker of a fine worker and interviewer. They are wrong. Not totally wrong, but I have met plenty of not-so-great candidates with a great handshake.
A good handshake will not cement your legacy as god’s gift to interviewers. In recent centuries, interviewers also look for skills, qualifications and relevant experience before giving you a role. 2017 is crazy, right?
Even so, there is some truth in the fact that handshakes can give an impression. Limp handshakes appear disinterested. On a similar note, there’s no need to break my hand – the last thing you want to be associated with is physical pain. Be firm, make eye contact, and just make a conscious effort to deliver a reasonably accurate representation of social interaction.
Why do people do this? Get a drink after.
There’s this idea particularly associated with millennials that we love Starbucks, Costa, and niche coffee, or that we generally have some sort of beverage with us at all times. It’s a little extreme, but every joke has a little truth in it. And it applies to everyone in this situation.
You might think bringing your own drink in makes you look business-ish, laidback and even independent (because nothing says independent worker like ‘I can order a mocha’). You just look inconsiderate to the formality of an interview. Having a drink in your hand makes for an awkward handshake too. Not so business-ish now, are you?
Chances are, you’re going to be offered a drink when you get there anyway. And if you don’t get offered anything, my guess is that you’ll probably live without your caffeine for an hour.
For the love of God, the same goes for food. For reasons beyond the need for explanation, bringing fo-
Interrupting the Interviewer
See what I did there? Clever transition or what?
Interviewing is a two way conversation where you don’t always have to have your back against the wall. It’s in the word. Inter is a prefix meaning ‘between’ – think international. If an interview is a ‘view between’, you have every right to speak up as well for anything you want to know.
But the thing is, it’s still ‘between’ yourself and the company. You have to commit to listening as much as you need to commit to your answers.
If you interrupt often (something I’m guilty of too), you can end up dominating conversation. In an interview where you’re trying to find out about each other, there’s a balance to be maintained. Don’t be afraid to lead conversation, but be led too.
If you’re like me, a good practice is to pause before speaking; I know your answers and ideas are great (I really do!) but there’s so much to learn from letting someone reach the end of their sentence and fully processing the information that’s there.
How can you know your reply will be relevant if you haven’t heard the full question?
Yeah, I know. It should go without saying. But here I am, saying it.
There’s no need to embellish this or say more than needs to be said.
Interview wise? Be clean.
Life in general? Be clean.
You can’t be responsible for a job if you can’t be responsible for yourself.
Coming in Late
Don’t be late. It’s a given. You’ve heard it a thousand times, and it’s one of the clichés that rings true.
If you’re going to be late, call ahead of time with a good reason for why you’re late. If you have a valid reason, most employers will understand it and be fine with expecting you a little later. It’s better than stumbling through the door 10 minutes late dishevelled, drenched in sweat and generally a mess. Not that I would know or anything. I’ve never been that guy. No way. Maybe.
On the flipside, being too early can really inconvenience those preparing for your interview. It could also be incredibly awkward if you bump into your interviewer and ‘competition’ due to your earliness. As a rule of thumb, 5 minutes early is great.
What Can and Can’t Be Said In An Interview?
A few things that are ummed and urred about when it comes to interviews, but probably aren’t big enough for their own section:
You can ask about the wage or salary involved with your potential role. Don’t dwell on it too much if you don’t want to come off as money focused.
Don’t feel obliged to answer questions on any of the following: your age, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status or future plans regarding personal things like family life. It’s illegal to ask these things.
Checking Your Phone
I reiterate: WHY?
Please, don’t do this. I incur you.
I don’t know how people do this but apparently, it’s a thing. Turn your phone off before an interview if you really can’t resist.
Again, there’s little to say about this. If you’re checking your phone mid-interview, your attention is divided from the job before you’ve even got it. It will bomb, and it will most likely end in rejection.
Unless you’re expecting a potential emergency (somehow), never, ever, EVER assume this is okay.
This has been a bit of a long post. I appreciate you made it this far. We’re almost there now.
My final point: be nice to people. Interview and workplace aside, just be kind. Don’t be nice for self-gain in life; be nice to be nice. If you can’t be a pleasant person (even if ingenuously), why would someone want to work with you, yet alone CHOOSE to hire and work with you?
The interview starts from the door. No, it starts from the car park. Receptionists and staff passing by will vocalise to your potential employers if you were (or weren’t) courteous. Do yourself a favour. Carry yourself well.