Past Issues

December 03, 2007

Seven Deadly Interview Sins

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Seven Deadly Interview Sins

Abridged: Forbes

There are a few things to keep in mind when going on a job interview: Don't get drunk during the meeting. Wear something more professional than jeans and flip-flops. Keep your conversation free from curse words. Know what the company does. Don't invite your parents to join you on the interview. While these things may seem obvious, a substantial chunk of job seekers violate those rules and oh, so many more.

David Hoffman recalls taking a candidate out for dinner for the final interview. The candidate impressed the hiring committee throughout several rounds of interviews and he was their choice to become a senior consultant at DHR, the Chicago-based executive search firm of which Hoffman is CEO. This informal meeting was the final hurdle. The candidate drank so much scotch that Hoffman had to call an ambulance.

Interviewees: Never forget your judgment is scrutinized at every point of the interview process. That means everything--from what you wear to the language you use--will be examined.

So take a moment, and make yourself aware of 7 deadly interview sins, sure to leave a bad impression:

Showing Up Late

Prospective employers are looking for eager employees to work at their company. Showing up late doesn't project that impression. Leave early to get there on time. Getting stuck in traffic frazzles most people and that's not the state of mind to be in on a job interview. But if you get stuck in traffic or there's an unforeseen situation, call your contact at the job interview and explain why you're going to be late.

Inappropriately Dressed

The proper attire for a job interview is a suit for men and a suit (or slacks or a skirt) for women. If you're uncertain about the dress code of a company your default should be a suit. This is true even for jobs that don't require one daily. The idea is to project success, or at least an understanding of what is appropriate, so dress the part.


Be honest about your experience level. Getting into a job that is over your head is a frustrating situation for you and your employer. Also, never lie on your resume. It's too easy for a prospective employer to fact-check your resume. Sites like LinkedIn make contacting your former co-workers hassle-free.

Bringing Your Parent On The Interview

There's been a lot of talk about helicopter parents--the ones who hover around their children and are a part of everything they do. While you might want to discuss the opportunity with your parents, do not have them contact the company or join you on your interview. It makes you seem like a child who can't make important decisions independently. Employers don't want to hire someone who has to call his or her parents to get tasks accomplished on the job.

Not Knowing Your Own "History"

Come to the interview prepared to talk about your past experience and interests and how those fit with the company's mission. Employers like candidates who are enthusiastic about the job, so make it clear why you'll be a good fit.

Cellphone/Pager Beeping And Buzzing

Shut them off. What is more important than landing the job of your dreams? If someone needs to get in touch with you, they'll leave a message. Also, it will likely distract you from the discussion you're having with your prospective employer.

Not asking questions

Show your interest in the company by asking the interviewer specific questions. It shows you've done your research and it makes the interview more of a conversation. It also shows how you think--that you reviewed the information and you want to know more.

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