Interview Taboos

You have spent hours, even days, preparing and customizing your resume and cover letter for your dream job.  You have diligently researched the market, the company and the position.  Your hair is perfectly coiffed and your suit is pressed. Your inner theme song is cued to get you in the right state of mind.  Everything is aligned.  You are going to ace this interview! But beware of saboteurs waiting in the wings to derail your performance…

You can be coached on all the interview ‘dos’ but it is easy in the heat of moment to backslide into the interview ‘don’ts’: the limp handshake, the sweaty can of Red Bull you place on the coffee table, or simply coming empty handed when asked for your resume. A healthy review of some common interview taboos can help keep these deal breakers at bay.

TMI: Often, in an attempt to establish rapport, we have the tendency to overshare which could compromise our job prospects. Oversharing is understandable given the casual and personal nature of much of our social media exchanges and correspondence, but it should be avoided in a formal job interview. Some examples to avoid would be; sharing that you’re feeling rough from last night’s party, you’re anxious about making the mortgage, you’re exhausted from your long commute or even you’re psyched that your cat’s most recent YouTube video went viral.  You get the idea.  These are things your interviewer does not need to know.

BOSS BASHING: Avoid criticizing your employers regardless of how bad the situation is or may have been. Focus on the positive takeaways and explain how you have learned from these experiences.  For example, perhaps you didn’t get along with a former boss who you considered a seriously annoying micro-manager.  You can spin it towards the positive by highlighting your gained awareness that you work better given some independence while still being part of solution-focused team.

POLITICS: Politics can be a polarizing topic that has no place in a typical job interview.  Though this might seem obvious it may require a little effort to check this subject at the door given our current cultural feed weighted with political drama. No, you don’t need to reference the latest #POTUS tweet.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?: As much as you care about the benefits and perks related to the potential position, don’t lead with questions that read as ‘What’s in it for me?’ Focus on the value that you can bring to the company, not on what they are going to provide for you; i.e. vacation time, bonuses, or doggy day care. As important as they may be, these points can be teased out once you have an offer.

BODY TALK: Let’s not forget the non-verbal cues that you communicate the minute you walk in the door.  Be gracious to all support staff from security to reception that lead you to the interviewer’s door.  Beyond that, stay aware of your body language throughout the interview process. “A candidate can give out thousands of nonverbal cues within the first minute of meeting a manager, and those messages [can] make more of an impact than the words that you use during the interview,” says Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma. Be sure to maintain solid eye contact, not cross your arms or fidget, and certainly don’t go in for a hug to say good-bye.

Are these points obvious to you?  Perhaps.  But regardless, you can never be too prepared and sharpening your awareness of potential interview saboteurs is part of a winning strategy.

Hone it in and may success be yours!