A job interview is your chance to flash your professional demeanor and talk up your skills and experience. More than anything, interviewers want to get a feel that you are a good fit for the company and will get along with the people on their team. Prepare yourself by understanding what you need to get across to the interviewer, and be ready to speak to what you bring to the table and offer the company.
But be careful. It’s easy for a candidate to make themselves appear unprepared, incompetent, or inconsiderate if they say the wrong thing. There are plenty of oratory pitfalls that candidates should be aware of when interviewing. Here are ten important “don’ts” to observe.
Don’t bash your current or former company
Disdain for an employer is what leads many people to start interviewing elsewhere. However, it’s a bad look to say that out loud in a job interview. It puts the interviewer on the defensive. What if you turn around and badmouth their company down the road? Keep your comments positive or neutral. Instead focus on what you learned at each workplace.
Don’t mention any difficulty getting along with management
Bad managers are a huge reason that employees leave for greener pastures, but again, speaking to that in a job interview takes delicacy. The interviewer doesn’t know you, and doesn’t know your boss. The interviewer probably understands that working relationships are a two-way street, and personality conflicts reflect poorly on you as a candidate—no matter what the truth of the situation is.
Don’t apologize for lack of experience
Admitting that you do not have the exact type of experience in question is only a blunder if you fail to engage the interviewer in doing so. Apologies are not engaging, so avoid them. If you are a new grad or changing careers and you don’t have all the experience listed in the description, don’t fret. Just know it’s important to focus on your transferable skills. Adaptability plays well. Prepare ahead of time and think of ways to frame your existing skills in a context that makes sense to the company interviewing you.
Don’t say you are overworked
Companies hire people to work, and expect their employees to work hard. If you had difficulty attaining a satisfactory work-life balance at a previous job, it is fine to acknowledge that. Just use the phrase "work-life balance." Most companies want their employees to have a good work-life balance, even if the understanding of what work-life balance looks like is somewhat nebulous. You might even ask the interviewer what work-life balance looks like at the company in the second interview.
Don’t refer to your resume
Your resume gets you the interview, but it’s your ability to make a good impression that gets you hired. The interviewer is not there to read your resume again. This is your time to flash your personality, how articulate you are, and whether you will get along with the people with whom you will be working. Take every opportunity to do so.
Don’t ask about salary right away
If you interview for a position without a listed salary range, make sure to do your homework. Absolutely reference Salary Guide information for the title and location of the job. Know what your personal range is. It is considered good form for candidates to complete a screener interview before asking about salary range. It’s generally fair game to have a discussion about salary range in the second interview. Show that you’re flexible by leave room for negotiation—especially when companies have desirable benefits.
Sometimes it’s a fine line between flaunting what you bring to the table and coming off as arrogant. Stay on the correct side of that line by showing rather than telling what makes you a good candidate. Understand that everyone has room for improvement, and that you have no idea what the other candidates have on their resumes.
Don’t answer the weakness question with, “I’m a perfectionist”
You’re not fooling anyone by answering a question about weaknesses by mentioning a strength. Instead use this question as an opportunity to talk about areas where you’ve deliberately identified and addressed weaknesses. Talking up supplemental education and tech tools for learning is relevant here. Interviewers are interested in professional growth. They will be looking for an honest answer. It does help to mention a weakness that is not necessarily closely aligned with the core duties of the job for which you’re interviewing.
Don’t forget to ask questions of the interviewer
Every interview ends with an opportunity to ask the interviewer questions. That means you should walk into the interview ready to ask at least three questions. Ask about company culture. Ask what a typical day looks like at work. Ask about pain points the company is trying to address.
Don’t forget to send a thank you note
You had a great interview where you spoke to your skills and experience in the context of the company's needs, and avoided the don'ts we covered above. Now what?
Playing your next card is like a game of chess, and one false move can checkmate you out of a job. Sending a thank-you note after a job interview is always wise if done correctly.
Make sure to put substance behind it. Don't bother sending one if all it says is: Thank you for your time, I hope we can work together.
Interviewers appreciate if you take the time to send links of websites, articles, or other reference materials that are relevant to your work. It shows you are thinking critically about what the company does, and that you're enthusiastic about the opportunity.