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Do This Not That: The Candidate and the Interview

Allie Kelly

This is the third installment in JazzHR’s “Do This Not That” series.

There are countless resources available for job applicants who are looking to ace their next interview, yet still, candidate’s still come to interviews unprepared, overconfident, and underwhelming. How can this be? With tools like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Waze, and the infinite others out there, it’s shocking to see candidate’s arrive late, without any understanding of the company, nor who they’re speaking with. In light of all the cheeky, supportive, uplifting “here’s what you should do” articles, I offer you an alternate perspective.

Women sitting at a desk

Here are the top 10 possibly not-so-obvious no-nos to avoid during an interview:

  1. Don’t forget your resume. Printers are the root of all evil. You never know if the team was unable to print a hard copy. Bring one.
  2. Don’t forget the team. If you know you’re meeting with the hiring manager – presumably, the person who will be your manager, it serves you to know as much as possible about him or her before meeting with them. But don’t stop there. If you’re meeting with multiple people, do your homework on them too. And don’t discount their time and feedback. If the company you’re interviewing allots you time with multiple people, it’s clear they both value their employees’ input, and want to give you a full picture of the role and the team. Make the time valuable. Make the conversations substantive.
  3. Don’t touch your cell phone. We’d think by now this one is obvious, yet candidate’s continue to answer phone calls and respond to text messages during interviews. Naturally, there isn’t a reasonable interviewer who wouldn’t understand an emergency situation, but we’re talking about the,Hi Honey, how is your day‚Äù sort of thing. A recent MarketWatch article notes 71% of surveyed managers said checking one’s phone is a deal-breaker. Remaining engaged in the conversation is essential, and it’s an extremely easy checkbox to tick in the win column.
  4. Don’t relax on the wardrobe. Maybe the company you’re interviewing with is casual but show that you’re serious about the role. Dress to impress.
  5. Don’t badmouth current employees. Want to see how your otherwise stellar interview could go south quick? Take a shot at a current employee. There is a fine line between demonstrating your ability to assist other teams and suggesting what they’re flat out doing incorrectly. If it appears as though you’d throw someone under the bus in an interview for the benefit of yourself, a hiring team could easily wager a solid guess you’ll do it in regular practice. Take the high road, make sure if you’ve previously interacted with employees you’re sharing the positive. Leave the negatives on your notepad.
  6. Don’t disregard junior staff. If an employer includes junior staff in an interview process, it’s more than likely that they value their opinion as much as the hiring manager and senior staff. Its an age-old story, the junior marketer or salesperson comes out of an interview and says, “the candidate didn’t let me talk.” Remember that these employees will be on your team, they may even be your support people. Yes, you may want to understand what they’re capable of, but be respectful. They have questions, and ultimately, they get a vote as to if you’re hired — or not.
  7. Don’t come unprepared. Before you meet with a team, do your homework. Review the job description, look up the team on LinkedIn, and gather some information about the company. Interviews classically last 30 minutes, and when an interviewer spends most of that time explaining general backstory rather than having an impactful conversation, it only hurts the candidate. Pro tip: Don’t stop at just knowing the players you’re meeting with. Have questions ready about folks you feel are relevant to your candidacy. You stand to learn a great deal more about the company when you engage in questions outside of the standard.
  8. Don’t be late. Use Google Maps. Use Waze. Politely ask your contact at the company if there are any tips for finding the office if it isn’t obvious, or maybe if there’s any known construction in the area. With all of the available planning resources available, arriving late is nearly inexcusable.
  9. Don’t badmouth your current employer. It’s obvious that one of two things is happening. You’re either leaving a role, or you aren’t working and are aiming to (re)enter the workforce. Everyone gets that. Since people don’t generally leave jobs they’re happy at, there’s a natural assumption that any candidate is seeking something new, and they’ll ask why. Keep your answers short, positive, and opportunistic. Grab some glue and fix the chip on your shoulder before you start talking.
  10. Don’t forget your manners. If you’ve been offered a beverage, say ‘thank you.’ Make requests, not dictations. Be respectful of the interviewer’s time — if you know the allotted time is 30 minutes and you’ve clearly gone over, make a mention and ask if it’s ok to continue or if a follow up would be more appropriate. Don’t assume because you’ve offered up a level of personal information that the interviewer wants to do the same — unless it’s anecdotally relevant, keep the conversation professional.
  11. BONUS! Don’t swear. Seriously, what the heck are you thinking?

Now, take these tips, go in, give it your all, and wow them. You’ve got this! candidate’s, are any of these a surprise to you? Hiring managers, any pet peeves we didn’t cover?

Allie Kelly


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