You probably know most of the interviewing tips that can help you forge a connection with a potential employer. Now it’s time to learn some of the things you must avoid in an interview to ensure the interviewer doesn’t end up hating you by the end of it.
These things really do happen. Just make sure they don’t happen to you.
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1. Jump at the chance to trash your former boss. “An interviewer will dislike you if you respond to the question, ‘What advice would you give your former boss, if asked?' ” says Lee Evans, CEO and career coach at Free-Job-Search-Websites.com, adding that this is a trick question. “The interviewer will interpret your negative response as the answer you might give when asked about a manager at the interviewing company. It's also a test of your ability to respond appropriately to sticky questions. Your interviewer and prospective employer will side with your former manager, and view you as difficult to deal with.”
Instead: Keep your responses professional and watch for trick questions.
2. Tell the interviewer what you would change. Sometimes, interviewers will ask you what you might change about a prospective employer, and it can be an opportunity to bring out some ideas you might have. But keep it constructive, and wait until they ask, says Ronald Kaufman, author and executive coach. “Telling them things you would change about their company is arrogant and implies you might be a disruptive employee,” Kaufman says. “As an outsider, you don’t know my needs, my budgets, my problems, and telling me what you would change is a major turn off.”
Instead: Wait to offer suggestions until the interviewer asks for them, and even then, keep them brief and constructive while stressing that you know you don’t have all the information.
3. Comment on your interviewer’s appearance. Whether you like the way your interviewer looks or not, keep it to yourself. Even “well, you look nice today” is inappropriate, according to Evans. Commenting on how people look when you’ve just met them can be a signal that you aren’t concerned with social boundaries or are rude. Comments about appearance are on the “interviewer’s red flag list,” Evans says.
Instead: Keep social commentary to a minimum, and stick to safe and general topics, such as the weather or traffic, before you get into the interview.
4. Denigrate the organization you’re applying to. Even when you want the job, it’s possible that things you say make it sound like you think you’re better than what the company deserves.
“If you make it appear as though the organization where you are applying is not up to speed in terms of technology or that its facility is lacking, you will alienate the interviewer,” says Cheryl Palmer, a career coach. “You need to give the interviewer reason to believe that you are the best person for the job and that you really want to work there.”
Instead: Find ways to talk about how you’ll be a good fit for the company, rather than implying you’re a superhero for offering to help the organization out of a jam.
5. Show up late. It’s a killer, no matter why it happens. Showing up 10 minutes early is a common interview tip, but its importance cannot be overstated. “Tardiness shows one of two things: disrespect or poor planning, both of which are nonstarters for most hiring managers,” says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, an organizational psychologist and author of “The YOU Plan.” Showing up late sets the tone for the rest of the interview, and you’ll have to be at the top of your game to come back from such a setback.
Instead: Make sure you’re early to your interview.
Interviewers aren’t looking for reasons to say “no,” but things you do can annoy them enough that you lose your chance at the company. Do what you can to make sure they don’t hate you.
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