Dec 12 2013

12 Interview DON’Ts (that You Won’t Want to Forget)

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In today’s economy, it’s pretty exciting to even be considered for a position. So when you land an interview, making a simple, avoidable mistake is the very last thing you want to do. We want to supply you with our list of interview DON’Ts gleaned from our collective experience and helpful articles around the web.

Looking to get hired as a UX designer? For more pointers, check out our recent post on how to get hired (& stay hired) in the UX industry.

Many of these tips seem like common knowledge, but they’re often (and sadly) forgotten. Read on to see how these twelve easy steps can enhance your chances of snagging that dream job.

Things to NOT do before your interview

Before the Interview

1. Don’t show up unprepared

Thanks to the internet, you can find out tons about the company beforehand. This also means you have zero excuse when it comes to explaining why you want to work there and why this job fits you.

Being prepared includes having questions ready for your interviewer. What are you still wondering after all your research? Are you curious about the foundations of their company philosophy & culture? Did their “About” page pique your interest in their growth hacking strategies? (But not “How much vacation time will I get?”)

And definitely role play in preparation for your interview, whether that’s with a friend or by applying to positions mainly for interview practice  (especially those jobs you think are a stretch). Remember: the more you rehearse, the less nervous you’ll appear.

2. Don’t ask for readily available (or overly sensitive) info

Don’t ask for the job description or salary range for the position you just applied to before your interview. The job description is already posted, so you already found it (or, with the magic of the internet, you can find it). As a candidate, put off the salary discussion as long as possible. Wait for your interviewer to introduce the topic of pay rates (which will probably happen after you get the job offer), and do online research into similar positions’ pay before the interview.

3. Don’t over-stalk

The internet is a double-edged sword. You’re wise to find out more about your interviewer and the company’s current employees, but you don’t want to creep on the company’s hq beforehand, film and photograph from the outside, etc. Stick to LinkedIn and common Google searches, or simply have questions ready for your interviewer, such as “How does working at this company stand out from your previous jobs?”

4. Don’t submit a sloppy resume & cover letter

Grab your favorite English major friend or relative, and see if they’ll give your application materials a once-over. If you fail to proofread your materials, you’ll get docked for each error the interviewer comes across. Also, interviewers can tell when you copy & paste your cover letter from the last company — especially when you forget to change the company name.

What NOT to do during your interview

During the Interview

5. Don’t whine

Calling previous positions “menial work” is not going to help you. You may very well think of them as such, but you’re only hurting yourself in this interview for this position. Find another angle. Try a positive slant: “I’m looking for more challenges in my line of work, and this position looks like it provides exactly the growth I’m looking for.”

Forget about complaining, especially about your boss cramping your style and the art director not giving you creative freedom. In general, negativity about your old job, boss, and coworkers shows the interviewer (at least) two things: (1) If they hire you, you won’t take enough control & responsibility for your actions; (2) Once you leave this company, you’ll badmouth their brand all over town.

6. Don’t lie (or stretch the truth)

Don’t pretend to know more about the company and its products than you do, and don’t fluff up your responsibilities & experiences. Rather, be sure to include why you’re excited about this company & position in particular. Being honest also means you don’t lie about why you’re running late for the interview (which, in and of itself, may be enough to forfeit the position anyway).

7. Don’t talk too much
Bonus Tip to achieve #7: Don’t overdo the pre-interview caffeine!

Your interviewer will get frustrated if they can’t figure out your answer amidst the verbosity. Keep your responses to the point, and show that you’re listening to the questions. You also risk coming across as domineering and disrespectful of the interviewer’s busy schedule when you go off on tangents.

If you talk too much, you’ll end up telling irrelevant stories and forgetting to answer your interviewer’s question. Additionally, you may shoot yourself in the foot if you get on a train of thought, forgetting to focus on your good points. So when you’re asked about familiarity with promoting social media, you may accidentally focus on how you deactivated Facebook and dislike Twitter. Or you may end up talking about politics, religion, or drugs. Which leads us to …

8. Don’t mistake your interviewer for your BFF

Sure, your interviewer may be friendly, but that doesn’t mean you should show them your “bad side” or tell them your entire life story. Keep a positive attitude about your abilities, and even when you’re asked about your weaknesses, make sure you spin them into a positive story of overcoming a challenge.

Recognizing that your interviewer is, well, your interviewer, also includes forgoing inappropriate slang, omitting overly personal information, and forgetting about those borderline offensive puns that may want to spill out of your mouth.

9. Don’t cancel last minute

If you need to cancel or change an interview, do not let your interviewer know 2 minutes ahead of time. Notify them at least 24 hrs in advance. While your best friend may be a little more understanding of your last-minute cancellation, your interviewer won’t take it so lightly.

10. Don’t act like you’ve already landed the job

While confidence is helpful (and there’s body language to communicate that, too), saying that “Well, I don’t work here yet” is ridiculous. Not only do you sound way too confident (to the point of thinking you’re too good for this company), but you are also seriously tempting your interviewers to prove you wrong.

11. Don’t say “I don’t know”

While you want to be completely honest, answering just the phrase “I don’t know” to anything in an interview is bad news. Be sure to emphasize that you’re a quick learner when you’re not that familiar with the topic at hand. Additionally, mull over and prepare what you really want to do in the future, what your goals are, and what you care most about in life; an “idk” answer on big questions is far from promising to a potential employer.

What NOT to do after you interview

After the Interview

12. Don’t forget to follow up

There’s a right and a wrong way to do this. Either you can be irritatingly persistent, or you can send a pleasant, eager thank you note. Make sure you put a reminder in your calendar to send a thank you email the next day (which also serves as a pleasant reminder to your interviewer).

Concluding Thoughts

No matter how much you read lists of things to do or not do in an interview, you’ve still got to put those pointers in action. Practice the advice you find online when you’re doing a mock interview with a friend, or applying to positions solely for extra interview practice. With this in mind, what are your go-to interview preparation steps/exercises/tips? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author:

Julia Larson is a freelance copywriter & copyeditor at digital-telepathy. When not on a quadrilateral device, she’s on her yoga mat, a hike, or a cooking spree. Connect with her on Google+ and Twitter.

Leave a Response

2 Responses

  1. Dec 12 2013
    Jamie Hamel-Smith

    Awesome tips in here. Also, there are so many ways to unintentionally screw yourself in an interview.