In my career, I’ve played the role of the interviewer and interviewee many times. When I’ve interviewed for positions, I always prepared a lot, learning about the company, the job description  and prepared  answers for every potential questions I could be asked. Throughout the years, I have compiled questions and answers as a Powerpoint slides  for myself which includes introduction, behavioral questions, personal strengths/weaknesses, reasons for leaving current job and motivation for the position I am applying for, technical questions and questions specific to the position. I have shared this to my friends and staff as well.

I always find it disappointing when I interview job applicants and they present themselves like they did not even bother to prepare for the interview including doing some research on what the job entails or what the organization is about. There are so many books, websites available to review on how to handle interviews. A little rehearsal with a friend for feedback definitely helps also.  Of course, when I was new to the process of interviewing, I made some mistakes that when I look back at them now, I just shake my head, feeling embarrassed.

Here are some things I have seen and advising others not to do in interviews:

  • When asked if you would like a chance to review the job description while you’re already sitting in front of interviewers, do not spend minutes reviewing it and in the process keeping the interviewers waiting. You should have read and be very familiar with the job description anyways, otherwise why would you be applying for the position.
  • Do not  say “You know what I mean?” As an interviewer, I may/may not know what you mean and there’s a reason why we’re interviewing you, to know what you know.
  • Do not  say “and so on and so forth”. What does that even mean?
  • Do not  say “to be honest..”. I hope you’re being 100% honest with your answers.
  • Do not read off your notes! It’s nice to see that you came prepared for the interview but it’s a little disconcerting when I ask you a question like “describe the principles of object oriented programming” and you tell me “I have a list, let me tell you what they are” and proceed to recite the answer.
  • If you do not know the answer, don’t make up one up, or say “I don’t know the answer, but let me just guess here…” Just say “I do not know.”
  • Do not answer a question if you are not 100% sure you understand it. It’s okay to ask for clarification. You don’t want to provide an answer that has nothing to do with the question. In the past, I have also written down questions on a notepad and reflect on it instead of blurting out a not-so-well thought out answer.
  • Do not try to selectively impress interviewers. I have been in interviews when it was so obvious interviewees were pandering to certain interviewers. Instead, treat every interviewer with the same amount of respect. They are in there for a reason and they all have a say in whether you get the job or not.
  • Do not be late or not show up to an interview without explanation. If you are going to be late due to unforeseen delay or if you cannot make it, call in advance so as not to waste interviewers’ time and very disrespectful. If you cannot call in advance, make the effort to connect with the interviewers at some point to offer an explanation. The world is getting smaller, word travels faster than ever, so you need to protect your reputation. You may come across the same individuals you just disrespected in the future.

What other interviewing “don’ts” can you add to the list above?