First Impressions Last: 10 Things Not to Do in a Job Interview

First Impressions Last: 10 Things Not to Do in a Job Interview

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We’ve all been there – nervously chewing nails, smoothing hair for the twentieth time, straightening clothes and running through answers in our heads. When the adrenalin pumps, it’s easy to lose sight of being calm and steady and just as easy to get stage fright. To counter the rush of blood to the head, it’s good to do your homework well in advance so you can (almost) run on automatic pilot once you step through the doors, into the interview.


Here’s a list of 10 things to avoid when lining up for your big moment.

1.    Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Decent Pair of Shoes

Okay, so though this may be a little generalised, but dressing for success still stands as one of the most important elements of a successful job interview. Don’t walk in wearing inappropriate clothing, unkempt hair and smeared lipstick. Gauge what sort of attire – even the best colours to wear – to suit the job you’re going for. Is it corporate? Wear blue or neutrals. Is it creative? Dress neat but add a splash of colour.


2.    Don’t Be Late

This simple rule is often the most broken, but it’s a huge turn-off to potential managers. In an article by Marci Martin for Business News Daily, she writes, “It is far better to be early and bored than to be late and panicked.” Work out how to get there well in advance and allow for traffic snarls or public transport stoppages. Check the internet or radio to see if your route is flowing smoothly on the day.


3.    Don’t Turn Up Unprepared

Again, a pet hate of recruiters or managers, is a potential candidate who knows nothing about the company. Research, research, research! Doing your homework shows you can think for yourself, work autonomously, have a naturally enquiring mind and are well organised. Kentin Waits suggests in his article, that being prepared also means bringing along hardcopies of your resume to show forethought for last-minute interviewers.


4.    Don’t Leave your Phone Switched On

This sounds too obvious to write, yet, surprisingly, people still make this simple mistake. Worse, though, is if you answer it or read a text message! Turn the phone off, close the iPad and leave the technology in your bag. Any distraction is a bad distraction so check and double check before you walk into that room.


5.    Don’t Slouch

It should go without saying straight shoulders mean business, but did you know body language can play an important role when determining a candidate’s potential? Body Language expert Allan Pease recommends sitting on the edge of a chair to “control gestures.”


6.    Don’t Ramble On

It’s brilliant to have well-thought-out answers especially to tricky questions. However, be mindful not to trip yourself up by going on about something you know little about OR know too much about. In other words, don’t bore the interviewer to tears, but don’t be arrogant.


7.    Don’t Sit in Silence

It’s one thing to ramble, but it’s quite another to say nothing. Again, it’s all about preparation. If you know the company’s policies, ask informative questions to show your interest. That, in turn, will peak their interest in you. Shaun McGowan from Lend Capital says, “There is nothing worse than having to lead, follow-up and repeat questions to siphon information out of an interviewee. I am always considering will this person inspire fellow employees of my company. This means, being able to communicate effectively, hold and start a conversation”.


8.    Don’t Gossip

You may have hated your last employer, and your co-workers were less friendly than a swarm of bees, however, whatever you do, don’t tell your potential new employer that. That kind of negativity never wears well in an interview.


9.    Don’t Discuss Money

As Kenny Rogers sang, “there’ll be time enough for counting when the deal is done.” Recruiters, the Michael Page Team, suggest that “unless an offer is put on the table, it’s not recommended that you discuss money or future working and holiday arrangements.” It shows you’re more concerned about the money than doing your job.


10. Don’t Be a Space Cadet

Bright happy eyes equal bright alert person. They also alert the interviewers to your general demeanour. Eye contact, according to Simon Lazarus for The Richest, should be a combination of “steely determination and professionalism.”


Above all, don’t be fake. “Authentic You” might be the very person the recruiters are waiting for, so back yourself.


And Steel Heels says:

Great checklist – while lots of these are obvious, there will be an Achilles Heel in there for everyone. At Steel Heels we have a tendency to over think an interview situation which we try to use to our advantage.

Guaranteed we have workshopped the outfit (flattering and confident? Too flattering? Too confident? Professional with a hint of personality? Too much personality?) We over-prepare, researching not only the company but the closest café to arrive at an hour early to get our caffeine hit, switch off devices and quiet our mind to the meeting ahead. The nerves keep us as interested and upright as meerkats and we’d always leave it to the interviewer to broach the subject of dollars.

My personal chink in the armour – I chatter when I’m nervous, so I try to keep calm and remind myself to let the interviewer lead, listen carefully and to take my time to respond thoughtfully. Sometimes all that preparation is unnecessary, particularly when you’re true to yourself and you connect with someone who thinks that the gabby meerkat might just be worth a shot!

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Charles Bailey