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10 Things to Avoid in a Job Interview

Monday, March 24, 2014 | Posted by: Alpha Kappa Psi

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Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the job field or you’re about to go on your first round as you leave college, we can all learn something about interviewing. Even as the business world changes, interviews almost seem to be a constant—and the rules surrounding them and the ways to properly ace them don’t change much. So what are some things you can avoid in an interview that can help you out?

Avoid Bringing Anyone/Anything Else

It’s hard to believe, but there are people who bring their parents and/or pets to job interviews. Your parents may have sat in with you when you had your college entrance interview, but they have no place in a job interview. It’s time to prove that you’re finally an adult. And bringing your pet doesn’t prove that you’re responsible. It proves that you don’t know boundaries. Leave them all at home.

Avoid Your Phone

We live in a society now where it’s not uncommon to see four or five cell phones sitting on a table at lunch, or people tapping away at them in the middle of conversations. Your phone has no place in an interview. Don’t text, don’t answer calls, don’t check Facebook. In fact, leave it in your car, or your bag, on silent, so you won’t be tempted. Give the interviewer undivided attention.

Avoid Underdressing

Even in relaxed work environments, it’s still important to look your best when you interview. Unless you’re specifically told to wear jeans and a t-shirt to your interview, dress up. You don’t have to wear a tuxedo or ball gown, but there’s nothing wrong with showing up to a relaxed work environment wearing a suit.

Avoid Talking Too Much

Interviewers are on a tight schedule when they’re interviewing for a job. The odds are, they’ll have more than one interview lined up in a day, and they’ll still have to focus on their actual jobs. Don’t take too much time answering questions or talking too much. Answer their questions to the best of your ability. If you feel like you’ve started rambling (or your interviewer tries to move on), stop talking and listen.

Avoid Speaking Ill of a Former Employer

It doesn’t matter why you parted ways—or why you want to part ways. Even if your boss was the scum of the earth, there’s no need to enter into that conversation with your interviewer. Focus on selling yourself. If your interviewer asks why you want to leave your current employer, answer positively, with something like, “I want to better utilize my professional skillset.”

Avoid Going in Blind

There are way too many people who interview for jobs with companies they simply don’t know a thing about. Take some time and do some research before you go in, and have a few prepared questions to ask about some of the work that they do.

Avoid Getting Too Personal

Your interviewer is not your friend or a psychiatrist. He or she is there to see if you and your qualifications fit those of the company and the specific role you’re interviewing for. Don’t talk too much—if at all—about your personal life. It’s fine to mention that you have kids, but there’s no need to talk about your child’s medical bills.

Avoid Asking for Too Much

It’s a pretty standard situation to be asked if you want water or coffee when you go into an interview. It’s fine to accept, but don’t get greedy. Have your one cup or bottle, and ask what you can do with the empty once the interview is over. There’s no need to ask for a refill. There’s a saying: a needy interviewee is a needy employee.

Avoid Money or PTO

Especially in a first interview, there’s absolutely no reason to bring up salary or paid time off. You’re in there to have your qualifications and merits evaluated. Bringing up money shows that you’re only interested in the company for one reason, and asking for time off before you’ve even started the job is a warning flag to employers. If the interviewer brings it up, then proceed. Otherwise, wait for later interviews.

Avoid Generalities

Google “job interview questions” and you’ll find a ton of overused questions and clichés. Don’t say that you “work well in groups,” or that you’re “a creative self-starter.” Provide real life examples of ways you’ve done this or demonstrate those qualities. Your examples will ring much longer than your general pronouncement will.

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