As a recruiter in the Staffing Industry, I spent the last four years interviewing people for all different types of positions - from entry level manufacturing to management and professionals. I have met some candidates that interviewed very well, and there were others that I could not wait to get out of my office. Here are a few interview tips on what NOT to do when applying or interviewing for any position. I was going to number these and put them in order, but they are really ALL number 1!
• Do not smoke at the site where you apply or interview. Smoking or chewing tobacco makes a bad first impression - wait until you are in the car leaving before using any tobacco products. Even if the interviewer is smoking (such as at a construction site), wait until you leave. Many businesses do not allow tobacco use of any kind on the premises.
If they do allow smoking, anytime during the application or interview process is the wrong time for several reasons: you will smell like smoke, your breath will stink, you will make their office or lobby stink. Employers also do not want to see your cigarette butts in their parking lot. If you walk outside to smoke while waiting for your interview, it leaves the impression that you will take too many unauthorized breaks if they hired you.
• Do not bring anyone with you, especially children. I don't know how many times I have interviewed someone that had a child with them - I even had one applicant start breast-feeding in the middle of the interview! I have also had applicants tell me that they were in a hurry because they left their child in the car - I refused to interview them until they found someone to watch their child. It is totally inappropriate to bring a child into a business - especially an office or manufacturing plant. Even if you are applying at a daycare facility, leave your child at home for the interview.
It is equally inappropriate to have your spouse, family member or friend tag along. Even if that person works at the place that you are applying, you should go to your interview alone. The one exception to that rule - if the employer called both of you in, or if the employer is hiring for multiple positions and you are both applying. In that case, you need to make sure that the employer knows that you both have your own transportation to and from work.
• Do not use your cell phone to talk, text, or email. Write down any phone numbers you may need prior to going inside, then turn your phone OFF - not silent or vibrate - OFF. It is distracting to you and the interviewer when your phone vibrates or lights up. The interviewer will wonder if you are planning to be on your cell phone all day, or texting while he/she is paying you to work.
• Do not be rude! Do not be rude to the security guard, receptionist, interviewer, or any other employee or applicant that you encounter on the premises. Interviewers often ask the receptionist for their opinion before making a final decision.
• Do not be in a hurry. Plan to be there for at least 2 hours. It may only take you 10 minutes for the interview, but the average time is about 30 minutes. You may have to wait, so don't get too antsy. Some employers will hire a good candidate right on the spot. That may mean taking a test, drug screen, or physical on the same day. In some industries, the employer might ask you to start work immediately.
I like to tell people (if they are not currently working at another job that will require a notice) to go to the interview prepared to start work right away, the same day. When the employer asks when you are able to start, it gives you an edge above other candidates. Keep in mind, if you tell the interviewer that you are willing to quit your current job with no notice so that you can start immediately, you are taking a big risk that he will show you the door. Most managers will not hire someone that has quit a job without giving a proper notice.
• Do not tell the interviewer how much you need the job or whine about your problems. Everyone they interview needs a job. Do not try to get them to hire you based on sympathy. They are not looking for a charity case, but a qualified, well-skilled individual that will meet their needs. Unless whining, begging, or complaining were listed as job criteria, don't do it.
• Do not talk bad about your previous employers. This includes the company, supervisors, co-workers, company policy, etc.
• Do not go into an interview looking like you just woke up. I have had people come in to my office wearing shorts, wife-beater t-shirts, pajama pants, flip-flops, slippers, hair messy, etc. You should dress as nice, or a little better, than you would be expected to come to work. You should not wear a three-piece suit to interview for a welding position, but dress appropriately. Also, the interview process begins when you ask for an application. You should not go to fill out an application unless you are ready for an interview.
• Do not act like over-confident, pushy, know-it-all. Yes, you should appear confident, but not cocky. I notice this most often with applicants that have 20+ years experience, and those applying for higher-level positions. Regardless of your vast knowledge and expertise, you are no better than anyone else and a bad attitude will keep you searching for a job.
Remember, the business you are applying with does not have to hire you. It is your responsibility to put your best foot forward & impress them with your job skills that can fill their need. In today's job market, you are competing against plenty of other qualified candidates. You need to prove to the hiring manager that you stand out above the rest.
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