Do Not Do These 18 Things at Your Next Job Interview!

You are ready for a job interview. You have practised the questions and know how to answer them. The last thing you want to do is turn off your potential future boss.

You are ready for an interview. You have a copy of your CV, practised the questions and know precisely how to answer them. Great! You are doing everything right – but not so fast.

There are numerous things that you shouldn’t do. You would like to be memorable to the employer, but in an effective way.

The last thing you want to do is turn off your potential future boss.

18 Things Not to Do at Your Next Job Interview

  1. Be late.
  2. Talk negatively of your current/previous employer.
  3. Ask about salary too early.
  4. Be arrogant or boastful.
  5. Show up without knowing anything relating to the organisation.
  6. Eat onions, garlic or fragrant foods before.
  7. Wear inappropriate clothing.
  8. Be vague over what you are looking for in the next position.
  9. Talk too much.
  10. Use slang or curse words.
  11. Lie or twist the truth.
  12. Chew gum and mints.
  13. Fidget and act nervous.
  14. Be overconfident or exaggerate your abilities.
  15. Be overly casual or too formal.
  16. Memorize your answers like a parrot.
  17. Act like you are interviewing them.
  18. Leave without asking for the position.

Even though it can be nerve-wracking and stress-inducing, it is essential to know that the job application process is a two-sided affair. That means both parties (the organisation and the candidate) have a vested interest in making sure it goes well, and at the end of the procedures, both parties want to guarantee they get what they want.

For the most part, employers want to recruit those who are skilled and enthusiastic about the role being offered. And candidates want to work for companies where they will be happy, learn new skills, and be successful.

There are “do nots” that can limit your chances of achieving that next position. Sometimes in the workplace, etiquette fails us and we enter territory that is uncharted. Rather, play it safe and stay away from any grey and controversial areas.

1.  Job Interview: Do Not Be Late

Being late is a big no-no!

If you are running late, you might not be offered the role.

But do you know why?

It is because mostly late-comers do not take time seriously. There is a poor sense of responsibility. They are perceived as incompetent, and bad at planning for the future because they haven’t learned how to manage time.

This might cost you a better career and a higher salary.

When it comes to job hunting, the first challenge is being invited. The second one is to be on time. Being late is a massive faux pas.

Leave yourself enough time in case you hit traffic or have difficulties finding the location.

When it gets to meeting with potential employers, arrive at the venue fifteen minutes before the appointment. This gives you some extra time to focus before your interviewer walks into the room.

Take a deep breath and collect your thoughts.

2.  Do Not Talk Negatively of Your Current/Previous Employer

Very few decision-makers enjoy hearing a candidate speak badly of any former or current employer.

Do not think that it is acceptable to gossip. If you did not enjoy your previous employment experience, you can explain why without attacking your previous company and the employees who work there.

Avoid mentioning conflicts and differences you had with co-workers and/or boss. Why be negative?

You do not want your next employer thinking you are someone who is unconstructively criticizing your past organisation while you are trying to better yourself and make more money.

Do not get tripped up by this simple question: “So, what did you like least about your role?

You can speak to the positives of your last job, but preferably avoid any negatives.

3.  Job Interview: Do Not Ask About Salary Too Early

Many experts agree that asking anything regarding salary pre-maturely can have a detrimental effect on the outcome of the hiring process.

You run the risk of receiving answers like “It depends on your experience” or hearing that they do not have the authority to discuss it at this point in time.

The trick of raising remuneration issues might spare you from a miserable experience and being disappointed when they reject your expectations.

Many candidates make the mistake to ask directly regarding salary, benefits, paid sick leave, etc… right at the start.

If you pitch too early, it can actually hurt your chances of being recruited, or even worse – you could put yourself in a negotiation position with your future employer before they are even close to making an offer. 

Do not raise the prospects of your income/benefits right away.

Wait until the end. First impressions matter and must be established.

There is an exception though. You have a pre-existing relationship with the interviewer, such as an employee referral or a contact from your network, who will know your compensation expectations and help you negotiate to meet them.

This can be useful if you are negotiating against an internal candidate. At this point, you are pretty far along in the process and a strong mutual interest has been established already.

Here Are Reasons Why You Should Refrain from Asking About Salary and Benefits Too Soon:

  • They might think that money is your only driving force. The organisation wants to recruit talent who are truly interested in and invested in the work they will be doing there – not just how much money they will make or what kind of perks they will get for doing it.
  • Organisational representatives might switch off because it is more than they were planning on giving you.
  • Your expectation might be too low and they can think you are a “cheap bargain” or “too cheap”.
  • If your prospective employers have done their homework, they will figure out whether you are worth an offer. At that point, they will bring up remuneration themselves.

There is no reason why you won’t ultimately receive a competitive offer when all is said and done (if you are a solid match in their view).

You do not have to know what everyone else is making for your base salary to be competitive.

Most large companies have strict compensation policies to ensure that all employees are paid fairly for their positions regardless of who else is working there – otherwise, it is difficult for them to retain and attract new talent.

4.  Job Interview: Do Not Be Arrogant or Boastful

Alright, you have landed an invitation. You feel tops. Do not let that intoxicating feeling go to your head and make you arrogant or boastful.

Everyone has unique competencies and talents they are eager to communicate. The organisation might see you as a prospective future employee, even if they do not make it obvious. If you rub them the wrong way, they might decide not to recruit you.

For some reason, those who are insecure sometimes think being arrogant will make them seem more confident and powerful. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, when an organisation reads self-importance on your CV or in the discussion, you can bet it will count against you.

There’s a fine line between self-confidence and pretentiousness.

Why You Might Scare an Interviewer Away:

  • Bragging won’t align you with any company’s team-oriented culture.
  • It looks like you smell of entitlement and expect to be rewarded for simply showing up. Companies are looking for employees who are going to put in a hard day’s work and earn their place at the table.
  • Arrogance suggests that you will not be open to constructive feedback.
  • You come across as all-knowing and not teachable.

Companies do not want to purchase talent who refer to themselves as if they’re the best individuals in the world. This kind of narcissism is impossible to work around.

5.  Do Not Show Up Without Knowing Anything Relating to the Organisation

You are currently job hunting. It is imperative to remember one thing: do not go without conducting your research into the business.

Unfortunately, the majority of candidates do not follow this golden rule. This is where the disconnect between most applicants and an employer occurs.

Show up knowing more than your average competitors.

As a job seeker, there are much you can do to establish a working relationship with the decision-maker and prove yourself as the best candidate for the job. Ignorance is not one of them and is your mortal enemy.

Do not waltz into the room as if you are just paying them a friendly visit. Any decision-maker will deem you as “unprofessional”.

Here Are Some Things You Should Know Before Showing Up:

  • The organisation’s mission/vision statement: Why were they founded? What are they trying to accomplish?
  • Organisational values: How do they communicate their culture and make decisions? What are they searching for in new hires? (Hint: This can often be found in their job descriptions).
  • News articles concerning the company/industry.
  • Their competitors’ names and some basic info regarding their operations.

Do your homework and show up prepared.

6.  Do Not Eat Onions, Garlic or Fragrant Foods Before the Interview

What many do not know is that garlic, onions and other foods can make your body release chemicals that will make you smell bad.

A pungent smell can be absorbed into your sweat glands. It will also affect your breath, which is something no one wants to deal with when they meet their future boss.

Some foods can give off a strong odour that sticks with you for the rest of the day. Garlic and onions are two of the foods that you should avoid eating. The smell might even cling to your clothes and/or hair.

Avoid those food smells that can potentially give offense.

7.  Do Not Wear Inappropriate Clothing at Your Next Job Interview

Do not kill your chances of success by wearing inappropriate clothing. You would really be surprised how many present themselves sloppy.

Showing up in attire without a professional appearance just look unsuitable – no pun intended.

It is inappropriate to wear revealing clothing.

Sit down, buckle up and focus on your fashion before the appointment.

8.  Do Not Be Vague Over What You are Looking for In the Next Position

Vagueness and ambiguity are two issues that are poison to your job search.

Often, job seekers do not know what they are looking for. They just know that they need a change or something better than their current situation.

Unfortunately, vagueness isn’t going to earn you any credit with a potential employer.

Stay specific and focused on the KPI’s of the role and organisation. Stand out from the crowd.

During the conversation, the decision-maker is looking for clues to see if you could be a long-term employee.

Employers might ask candidates to share their priorities in terms of what they look for. While these types of questions may appear to be soft inquiries, they are often used as a way to pinpoint where the candidate really wants to work and what success truly means to them.

There’s no doubt that a candidate’s answer to “Why are you seeking this position?” can make or break the entire process.

It only takes a single vague response to send the decision-maker into a state of doubt.

9.  Your Job Interview: Do Not Talk Too Much

They’ll ask you a stable of questions. You might be tempted to talk about yourself for an unnecessarily long time.

If your mouth is moving as fast as your brain is thinking, you are going to trip up.

Clearly communicate why you are a solid candidate for the role. Confidently articulate your competencies, experience and personality traits that are relevant.

Practise your elevator pitch beforehand.

Talking excessively is something that many do not realize they’re doing. It can make you seem clueless or desperate.

Instead of job-related rambling, stay focused on answering the questions being asked of you and follow along smoothly.

10.  Do Not Use Slang or Curse Words During the Interview

The interviewer is not called “Dude”!

Because you want to be taken seriously, it is consequential not to include slang and/or curse words in the discussion. They are out-of-bounds and rude.

Be articulate and classy, so think before speaking.

11.  Do Not Lie or Twist the Truth

The objective of the recruiting process is to get to know you, your competencies and if you are a viable candidate.

What does lying (even if by omission) say about how you will perform your duties when appointed?

Who would want to appoint a liar? Honesty is a trait all employers value.

Integrity is something that employers deliberately search for in a candidate. Lying or purposefully misleading them (or not giving direct answers to questions) will easily turn you from “suspect” to “not hired“.

It is a fateful assumption to believe you will get away with “little white lies”.

Lying is reckless, and it is really baffling to think that someone will falsify their personal history to get appointed.

12.  Do Not Chew Gum and Mints During the Interview

You might think that chewing gum and/or mints, is a way to freshen your breath and to look cool.

First of all, chewing gum or eating mints while you are trying to influence an interviewer is just plain distracting. As soon as you start chewing or cracking open wrappers, the other person will focus on it.

If you worry about your breath being fresh, do what you can before the conversation, including brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash.

Employers who are interviewing candidates are looking for appearance and articulation. Someone chomping and chewing is handing the prospective employer a big red notice that says “Reject Me“.

Unless you are auditioning for a role as a gum-chewing teenager, avoid it.

You will always be best off keeping your breath fresh with mints and gum before the fact. Just make sure they are not in your mouth when you meet up.

13.  Do Not Fidget and Act Nervous at Your Job Interview

You are sitting in a room with your potential future manager. Despite your preparation, you find yourself fidgeting, repeating yourself, and being overtly nervous. This can ruin your chances.

Don’t end up making the hiring professional feel uncomfortable, thus putting you at a disadvantage.

What recruiter will appreciate someone jiggling their foot, playing with some coins, biting their nails, and so on?

But What If Your Brain Doesn’t Cooperate? Here Are Tips to Keep Your Nerves Under Control:

  • Take deep breaths before going in. Get oxygen flowing through your body to calm the nerves.
  • Relax your muscles as much as possible. Do not tense up your shoulders or jaw.
  • Feel free to take a moment or two before responding. You might be worried regarding awkward pauses, but it will actually make you come across as thoughtful and well-spoken.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. A solid eight hours will help your body for the physical and emotional challenges of an interview; it also helps clear up any brain fog that might impact your performance on the big day.
  • Allow yourself enough time to get to the venue so that you do not have to rush or panic.

14.  Do Not Be Overconfident or Exaggerate Your Abilities

Over-confidence makes you seem like you have a serious problem with your ego and decision-makers notice this.

Highlight your proficiencies and strengths without egotism. Talk about your passion, and why the job opening is an appropriate fit. Be honest and enthusiastic.

Keep your accomplishments on the “down low”. Be ready with examples and do not brag.

Let your authentic personality shine through.

Boasting seems untrustworthy.

The business is searching for a candidate who is competent but also humble and willing to learn.

15.  Do Not Be Overly Casual or Too Formal

Being overly casual may make you appear amateurish. Being overly formal makes people uncomfortable.

Strike a balance between informality and formality.

Excessively casual dress or overly formal clothes can sabotage your bid.

There is a balance where dressing appropriately and projecting professionalism meets one another.

16.  Job Interview: Do Not Memorise Your Answers Like a Parrot

It is handy to memorise the answers to potential questions.

However, you should never ramble them off. It will come across as scripted and mechanical. Interviewers don’t employ robots.

What does this mean? In the ideal world, when you reply, you will answer naturally, just as if you were having a conversation. Speak clearly, do not use complex jargon and ensure that your speech is relaxed.

A potential employer does not want to hear the same rehearsed answers to questions that they have heard dozens of times in the past. Some interviewees act almost robotically.

Recruiters want to know how you can help the growth of their organisation and if you are authentically interested in helping them succeed.

When you practice your responses in a natural way, the quality of the information will be evident when you give your answers. You will feel more confident than if you try to bark out “recorded” answers.

17.  Do Not Act Like You Are Interviewing Them

The worst approach is acting like you are doing the employer a favour by interviewing them instead of the other way around.

Asking a whole host of questions can be just as detrimental as not asking any at all.

If you are coming up with many questions, it may look like you did not do enough research into the role or company. Some candidates may not do any research and simply hope they can get all their answers during the meeting.

Do not ask questions just for the sake of asking questions.

The best thing to do is to just let them guide the conversation and answer their questions honestly.

18.  Job Interview: Do Not Leave Without Asking for the Job or Expressing Your Interest

So many prospects believe that once they have finished, it is up to the organisation to extend the offer, but this is not necessarily true.

After all of your hard work preparing, do not let this opportunity go to waste. Seal the deal!

Do not leave without asking for the job.