Don’t Do This at Your Next Job Interview

man at job interview

Categories: Interview Preparation

If you have a job interview coming up, you’re probably preparing now for what you should and shouldn’t do in that all-important meeting. We previously shared some common interview mistakes you could be making that could hinder your chances of moving on to the next step. While those are more about preparation and areas you might not have considered, here we’re talking about how to act during the interview. After all, the first impression you make is the impression you’ll make. And you want it to be a good one.

Don’t Chew Gum

woman chewing gum

While most job seekers wouldn’t even think about chewing gum at a job interview (or any meeting, for that matter), some people have gum in their mouths nearly all the time. If you suffer from dry mouth, consider carrying a bottle of water with you to your next interview. But don’t chew gum. It looks unprofessional and disrespectful. Plus, having gum in your mouth could impede your ability to enunciate, and you don’t want interviewers to misunderstand what you’re saying.

Remote Interview Tip:

Even on the phone or via video, you should still ditch the gum. Interviewers can hear and/or see you chewing, which is just as much of a turnoff as it would be in person.

Don’t Wear Strong Scents

woman holding nose

If you normally wear perfume or cologne, be mindful of how strong it is before you head to your next job interview. When we wear scents regularly, we tend to become nose blind to them, which sometimes leads to layering on way too much of the smelly stuff. While you can’t smell yourself, interviewers can. And some of them are sensitive to smells.

Go light on anything that has an odor when preparing for your interview. This includes perfume, cologne, aftershave, deodorant, and even cigarettes. It’s best to smell somewhat neutral as you walk into your interview.

Don’t Bring Anyone with You to Your Interview

mother whispering to child on streetWhile it doesn’t often happen that a professional will show up to an interview with a guest, it does happen. It could be the person who drove you there, such as a friend or relative. If you are a parent and childcare fell through, it could be one or more of your children. Again, your goal is to give a professional first impression, and having guests with you doesn’t do that.

If someone dropped you off for your job interview, have them go to a nearby coffee shop to wait for your text or call to pick you up when the interview is complete.

Children are a more challenging matter. Kids get sick; childcare falls through; things happen. Ideally, you’ll have a backup sitter, but if you must bring children with you to an interview, make sure they have activities that will keep them entertained while you interview. If possible, have an older child sit in a different part of the building (e.g., in the lobby while you’re on the third floor). And consider that a potential employer may appreciate your dedication to being there—even with the kiddo. Any parent will understand that things happen.

Remote Interview Tip:

Dedicate a private, quiet area to your interview and let everyone know that you need to be left alone during that time. Use headphones to minimize background noises and close the door in case an Amazon delivery shows up and Fido goes nuts.

Don’t Fidget

fidget spinnerDo you talk with your hands? Play with your wedding ring while you’re talking? These are perfectly normal in most situations, but in a job interview, they can be off-putting. Of course, no one expects you to be a statue and just sit there with your arms at your sides (which is also weird), but if your arm or body movements distract the interviewer from what you’re saying, there’s a problem.

Role-play your interview with a friend or family member ahead of time. If that doesn’t appeal to you, try recording yourself with your phone or web camera. Pay attention to your body language and how much you move around. If it’s too much, work to minimize those distracting movements.

Remote Interview Tip:

For a phone interview, moving around won’t be an issue, but it could be on a video interview. Do a dry run in front of your web cam to get a preview of what your interviewer will see. If necessary, adjust your camera to hide your hands while you fidget with your pen, ring, or whatever.

Don’t Leave Your Phone Turned On

incoming call on iphoneIf you’re not already in the habit of always keeping your phone on silent, make sure you do this before walking into a job interview. In this instance, vibrate won’t cut it since that can still be heard in a quiet room. For the tech-savvy who get notifications on a smart watch, resist the temptation to look down at your wrist if it vibrates. You can turn off that feature as well, but since the small vibration won’t be heard by your interviewer, it’s not necessary. However, your attention should be 100% on the situation at hand, not on your watch.

Remote Interview Tip:

Set your phone to “do not disturb” during your phone or video interview. That way it won’t ring, and it won’t even let you know if someone is calling while you’re on the phone. Even better, for a video interview, leave your phone in the other room.

What Else Would You Not Do at a Job Interview?

Did we forget anything that you would put on your list of things not to do at a job interview? If so, leave us a comment below or email to let us know what we missed!

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