In many ways, a job interview is similar to a first date – and it can be just as nerve-racking. Both parties are sizing each other up as they try to make the best first impression. There are plenty of strategies to help win over your interviewer and clinch the job, but how do you know you’re making the right moves? Here are five gaffes you should steer away from during that all-important job interview.
Timing is everything
While being late for an interview is a huge mistake, arriving too early is equally as bad – even if you have the best intentions.
Hiring managers have tight schedules, so turning up early is likely to annoy and frustrate your interviewer, who may see you as an imposition, particularly if they are in the middle of a task. Interrupting your interviewer could kick off the job interview on the wrong foot, set a bad tone for the meeting ahead and ultimately cost you the job.
Instead, wait in your car or a cafe if you are early and use the extra time to gather your thoughts. You should not arrive for the interview any more than 10 minutes before it is due to start.
Don’t chew it up
A growing number of recruiters are experimenting with lunch or dinner interviews, particularly in the latter stages. It can be a way of determining the candidate’s social skills and if they have grace under pressure. Make sure your table manners are on point, and only drink alcohol if your potential employer does.
If your meeting is taking place in an office environment, do not arrive with a drink or food in your hand. You may be thirsty or in need of a caffeine hit, but turning up with a takeaway coffee is too casual and sends the wrong message. Chewing gum in a job meeting is also taboo.
Of course, if you are offered tea, coffee or water, you should gladly accept, but upon leaving show good manners by asking where to discard the empty cup.
Put your phone away
While waiting for your interviewer to arrive, you might be tempted to check your emails, text or play games on your cell phone, but again refrain as this could be regarded as bad manners. Fiddling with your phone may also make you seem unprepared, unfocused and disinterested. A good rule is to switch off your phone before turning up for your job interview so you can be focused and make the best first impression.
Keeping up appearances
A surefire way of turning off your interviewer is to wear clothes emblazoned with the logo of the competition. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it has been known to happen. The best solution is to avoid all logos and dress in clothes that reflect the company you’re hoping to work for. If it’s for a manager or executive role, a suit and tie is preferred.
Don’t speak badly of a former employer
Recruiters want candidates to have skills that satisfy the job description, but also want them to be able to share, work as a team and have emotional intelligence.
Even if you were bullied or treated poorly at your previous job, don’t bring it up. Speaking negatively about a past employer is a sign that you lack emotional intelligence. Turning up to the interview ill-prepared, not asking questions or interrupting the interviewer could also jeopardize your chances of snaring the job.
Finally, make sure you are polite to everyone you encounter during the course of the interview, including receptionists. Nothing turns off interviewers quicker than a lack of manners.
By avoiding these pitfalls, you can make a good first impression and be on your way to a new job. Doing things such as showing up on time, knowing about the company and its culture, being enthusiastic and asking great questions will ensure you make an unforgettable impact on the hiring manager, and maybe even score yourself that dream job.