LATE ARRIVAL: Your conduct at an interview is a strong indication to employers of how you will perform if hired. Showing up late is a surefire way to give someone else the job. Employers really won’t care to hear about your glowing resume or career accomplishments if you show up late. Simply, put: Don’t do it! Always plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early and if you know you tend to be late, set the bar at 30 minutes. Also, traffic and train delays aren’t acceptable excuses. Take every necessary precaution to make sure you’ll be on time. Your career is depending on it!
DRESSING INAPPROPRIATELY: Though some industries allow for a more relaxed dress code, the general rule of thumb is to always dress professionally and modestly for an interview. Bright colors or busy prints, excessive jewelry or accessories, and casual attire can be distracting for interviewers and takes their attention away from your qualifications. It’s also important that your clothes are wrinkle-free and without stains. While a business suit is preferred, it’s understandable that everyone might not have one, especially those just starting out. For men: dress slacks, a solid shirt, and tie are the minimal expectations. For ladies, dress slacks, skirts, and blouses are acceptable. What’s most important is that nothing is too tight, too short, or too revealing. The way you dress for an interview is a direct reflection of your professionalism. Don’t tarnish that image by dressing inappropriately.
CHEWING GUM, EATING OR DRINKING: While fresh breath is always important, it’s never a good idea to chew gum during an interview. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t be chewing, eating, or drinking anything—unless you’re meeting over lunch of course. Though many people like to have a cup of coffee or a bottle of water on them at all times, it really isn’t appropriate to bring these items into a professional interview. Chewing is a not only a distraction, but is considered disrespectful by some. So, finish your beverages and get rid of your gum before going in the interview. If bad breath is a concern, pop a mint and finish it right before the interview.
ANSWERING YOUR CELL PHONE: If you’re like many busy professionals who never turn off their cell phone, a job interview is the one time that you should make an exception. Ringing and vibrating cell phones are totally unacceptable during an interview. And by all means, don’t add insult to injury by actually answering a call or responding to a text message. It’s best to always give an interviewer your undivided attention, even if they don’t extend the same courtesy. Ringing cell phones are interruptive and can break the flow of a good conversation. So, turn your cell phone completely off before entering the interview. Hopefully you’ll have good news to share once you turn it back on.
FAILING TO CONTROL NERVOUSNESS: The nervous energy that most of us experience during a job interview can lead to very bad habits. Tapping feet, biting nails, poor body language, fidgeting, and a lack of eye contact are all indicators of nervousness. While it’s natural to be nervous, it’s important not to let your nerves get the best of you. Avoid having something in your hands that you’ll tend to play with, be sure to sit upright with good posture, and always maintain good eye contact. It’s important that you’re able to engage the interviewer and keep his/her attention. The key is to have them focused on how impressive you are, rather than how nervous you seem.
FAILING TO ASK QUESTIONS: Employers almost always end every interview by asking the candidate if they have any questions, and some of the most important questions asked during an interview are from a job seeker. This is your chance to show your sincere interest in the position as well as get clarification on issues that the interviewer might not have addressed. It’s likely that an interviewer will leave unsure of your interest in the position if you say that you don’t have any questions, so always come prepared with at least two for the interviewer. Topics related to training, travel requirements, and company culture are always safe. As a general practice, never ask about salary during the first interview.
SHOWING UP UNPREPARED: Be sure to do your research on company by reviewing the job description and becoming familiar with its requirements. If the employer asked you to bring anything such as copies of your resume, writing samples, completed application, etc., be sure to have all requested documents neatly gathered in a portfolio or briefcase. Also, get proper sleep the night before and eat a light meal before the interview. You don’t want to seem lethargic or overly stuffed during an interview. Interviewers can always tell when you took the time to prep and will keep that in mind when making their final decision.