What To Never, Ever Do On A Job Interview

Note: There's a huge difference between lying and embellishing.

By Alida Nugent

I’ll get right to the point: if you’re lucky enough to snag an in-person interview in the festering hellscape that is the job market, you better not screw it up. Finding a job takes the same amount of dedication and time as a real job does—it’s day after day of casting your net into every corner of every job you could be possibly be qualified for, updating cover letters, filling out page after page of forms, following up, and refreshing LinkedIn. It’s boring. It’s tedious. It breaks you down emotionally. It brings about more rejection than any dating app ever could. So if you are one of the few who go past HR, past a phone interview, and right into the heart of the office you might one day work in? Don’t be a jackhole. There’s etiquette involved in this. There are ways to go about it without looking like a moron, and there are ways you can act that will completely blow your chances of getting the position. 

Listen, you can have a perfect in-person job interview and not get the job. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and these kinds of things are mostly out of your control. But what you can control is your own behavior and put your best working foot forward. Here are the things never to do during a job interview:

1. . No Significant Amounts Of Complaining

Nobody cares that your last job sucked. If you left because it was a garbage job, what your future boss will be interested in is the why. Was it too much work? Maybe you’re not one to stay late. Were you juggling too much at once? Maybe you’re a go-getter who gets taken advantage of, but your work ethic is solid. Did you think your boss was an asshole? Maybe you’re impossible to work with and everybody hates you. Don’t sit there complaining about your former position. Be succinct and positive—keep your negative feelings about your positions to a minimum and let them know you’re looking forward to working with a new team and a new set of challenges. This isn’t a gossip session. 


2. . Don't LIE

Are you kidding me? Why are you lying on your resumé in a world where the Internet exists and it’s very easy to find things out? And note: there’s a huge difference between lying and embellishing. Sure, you can turn “a coffee shop job where you managed the cash register and took long lunch breaks” into “a service job where you expanded your knowledge of the food industry and managed large amounts of cash.” But you can’t turn “coffee shop job” into “two years at a publishing company.” Don’t lie about things that can be confirmed—not about how long you were there, not about who referred you to this job, not about companies you worked at. You can be the most qualified person in the world, get caught in a lie, and lose a job.

3. . Never Come Unprepared

Be well versed on the position you’re applying for. Read your own cover letter and the job posting before you go in, just to make you remember everything you’ve said and what they’re asking for. Bring a pen and paper. Bring a copy of your resumé. Look up basic information about the company--check out the company website, know who the CEO is, how many offices they have, and if possible, find their mission statement. These things take five minutes, but if you go in and don’t really know anything about the company you might work for? It shows. Oh, and have one or two questions prepared. It makes you seem interested!

4. . Don't Downplay Yourself Or Your Accomplishments

If you’re proud of the work you’ve done on a project and they don’t ask you about it? Tell them. Be sure to talk about the things you’re good at, the job experiences you’ve learned from, and the things that make you a good worker. Nobody can advocate for you better than yourself, so don’t be shy about it. Be honest about your salary requirements if and when they ask you. Be honest about your weaknesses, but outweigh them with the good things. Be honest about your experience, but pepper it with your work ethic or examples of leadership. Come in proud of the things you’ve done up to this moment.

5. . Don't Turn A Good Interview Into A Bad Impression

You can have a great interview and ruin it with the way you act the days or weeks after the interview. If somebody referred you to the position, send them a quick thank you note. Send an email to the person (or people) that interviewed you with a thank you as well. Make it brief. Don’t follow up with a million phone calls. Don’t email them with a million follow-ups. Be patient! Be grateful you got an opportunity to interview! And hopefully, you’ll get the job!

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