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by Vault Education Editors | January 05, 2011


Please direct your attention to this list of 50 interview shall-nots, from Resume Bear. First, just scan the list glancing at whichever "interview killers" catch your eye. Don't: "Ask about dating in the workplace." "Arrive under the influence." "Be rude or obscene." Seems like common sense, no? Easy breezy, right? Now begin again with the top of the list, and let your eyes scroll down slowly as you recall your own past interviews.

  • Arrive late or too early (more than 10 minutes is too early)
  • Fall asleep or yawn
  • Smell like cigarette smoke or alcohol
  • Discuss your party life
  • Dress inappropriately
  • Talk bad about your past co-workers or boss
  • Be rude or obscene
  • Be overly sarcastic
  • Try to tell jokes
  • Forget your resume
  • Look at your watch/play with jewelry
  • Ask about money too early
  • Don’t research the company
  • Ask too many questions
  • Ask no questions at all
  • Use “like” too often
  • Be unable to answer their questions
  • Lie about your experience
  • Wear too much or too little makeup
  • Sound desperate
  • Leave your phone on
  • Be fidgety while talking or being talked to
  • Use big words incorrectly
  • Forget to ask for the job
  • Act like you have better places to be
  • Expect benefits immediately
  • Be a braggart
  • Be overly shy
  • Speak too quickly/or to slowly
  • Swear
  • Joke about sexual harassment rules
  • Talk about your solitaire skills
  • Complain about anything
  • Roll your eyes
  • Interrupt the interviewer
  • Arrive under the influence
  • Talk too much
  • Ask about holiday’s off
  • Not know which position you are interviewing for
  • Forget the name of the company/interviewer
  • Chew gum
  • Ask about dating in the workplace
  • Be fake/overly excited
  • Use words that really mean nothing like “web 2.0″ and “go-getter”
  • Don’t ask for their business card
  • Deliver a weak or too strong handshake
  • Name drop
  • Ask the interviewer their age/relationship status/gender
  • Bring in food to eat during the interview
  • Don’t even show up

Were you thinking, "Ack, I'm only down to number ten and I've already committed half of these violations"? The further you scan down the list, the more you realize, like a hypochondriac poring through DSM-V, that you have, even when you haven't, been guilty of a handful of these behaviors, probably on more than one occasion. Symptoms of a bad interview.

Of course, this list of interview no-nos isn't some kind of scripture or anything like that. Even Jesus couldn't avoid committing all these interview transgressions, and would probably fall prey to a couple of them (ask for holidays off, act like he had better places to be?). Still, it's reasonable to say that, given the level of scrutiny directed at the job candidate during an interview, doing any one of these things might possibly maybe rub the interviewer the wrong way.

It's astounding, really, just how many things there are to remember not to do, many of which might go down to the core of a person's personality. How does a meek person not appear overly shy? How does a fast-talker refrain from racing through sentences if that's his natural tempo? Is a flawless interview even possible? If it is, then how to keep from inadvertently making some of these blunders, when so prone to making them?

As with most things, you know the answer is practice. Preparation and conditioning is the best way to correct mistake-prone behavior. Start by reading up on interview advice. Then start rehearsing, engaging in mock interviews with friends, roommates or family members. Identify your gaffes. If you tend towards the overly nervous and fidgety side, it's poise you'll need. Start engaging in activities that cultivate composure. Then rehearse with more mock interviews, and again and again until everything becomes second nature to the point that all the knots have been worked out and you have an easy calm about you.

With practice, you'll soon be able to go back over this list and know that the time you wore jeggings or brought a panini to an interview, it was entirely because you meant to.

[Resume Bear]


Related: Vault's Interview Advice


Filed Under: Education|Grad School