Interviews–Don’t do these May 15th, 2013

Vinod Kumar

For some strange reason, I seem to love writing on this very subject. I did write over Pinal’s Blog on what are my thoughts on preparing resume, preparing for interviews and a lot more. That is quite a long post that talks about the things one need to take care and mostly takes a call from a Do’s – this post is about Don’t that I felt are equally important as one prepares for interviews. What are some of the Don’t that come to your mind? Having taken interviews, do you see potential candidates making these common mistakes? How paranoid are organizations when it comes to evaluating candidates on these dimensions?

These are my top 8 Don’t I see folks making mistake:

1. Don’t Dress Casually

This can be a double edged sword. Being casual in your approach and wearing Jeans with T-Shirt can be a dooms call for most companies. Try to be neutral and dress professionally, don’t try to overdo it too. You don’t want to be seen as a odd man out. The first impression needs to be the best.

Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire – Dan Zevin

2. Don’t badmouth current employer

This is a tough one – a lot of times you will be quizzed on why you want to leave the current employer. The industry is really small, be careful not to badmouth them. Doing so you are likely to reduce your chances of getting this job too. So be diplomatic and subtle in answering the same.

3. Talk just enough

Know your limits here. Too less can catch attention, at the same time talking too much and rambling on and on can also catch attention. Try to be crisp, to the point and try to answer the question asked.

4. Don’t Give wrong answers

There is no excuse to authentically giving an wrong answer :). I know you have no intention to give the wrong answer, if you are guessing – say it is your genuine guess and then explain your answer with your assumptions. Have seen people think it is a crime to say “I don’t know”. Well, in my personal opinion there is nothing wrong in saying that – but if you keep saying just that in your interview then you lost the plot anyways :).

Interviews are not interrogations, those must be your inner views.

5. Respect the interviewer

This is a critical step – acknowledge and give the respect the interviewer needs. As part of this, make sure to switch off your phone. Donot ever, never take calls when you are inside an interview. Even better, switch it off before you enter the room.

6. Not prepared

Be it presentation or interviews – there is no excuse for not being prepared. The first step is to know the company you are going to, what is the role, what can you expect, what is their culture, who will be interviewing, what is the company recent results, why you wanna join this company etc. I have seen candidates stare at me when we ask – “Tell me about yourself”. In such situations the interview ended even before it started.

You not only choose a job, you choose your manager too.

7. Be punctual

Donot ever be late to an interview. As I said before, it is better to be 15 minutes early than a minute late. It very much echo’s point 5 above – you do respect the time of the interviewer. Bring no excuses – period.

Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late – William Shakespeare

8. Not Following up

Your interview is not over as soon as you get out of the door. Make sure to follow up and thank the interviewer for the opportunity. Getting a job or not is secondary, try to make an impact on the people who interview you. If the folks think you are not the correct person for the position open, they might have you behind their mind for a future position for sure. So leave an lasting impact.

These are my top 8 Dont’s when attending an interview. Would love to hear your experiences and anecdotes.

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12 Responses to “Interviews–Don’t do these”

  1. sahal says:

    hello sir,

    thank you for the brush up thoughts.
    Dont Dress Casually:
    i see some “great” companies people go to work on monday’s with their track pants. does it still mean if iam going to such a company interview i shoudnt’ be using jeans and t-shirt?
    or should we be like, forget how we go to our current work place and how the poeple at future employer, for interview be formal.

    • Vinod Kumar says:

      Sahal -

      Being casual in your attire doesn’t send a positive vibes across to the interviewer however their company culture is. Even in such companies, if the CEO suddenly walks in to take your interview, do you think your attire is appropriate now? Even better, will you be comfortable giving your interview in such dress code?

      A formal doesn’t mean Tie, Blazers/coat etc are not mandatory. Try to dress neutral and formal enough for the interview. That way we are not overdoing nor are too casual.

      Last point for me here is, employees are getting the perks of coming in casual. They have already earned their place and can afford to do that. As far as we are concerned, we are yet to get a job and have to behave like an outside TILL the point we get their offer letter :). So my point around “Don’t Dress Casually” still holds good.

      This is a deeper topic and I will be more than happy to have a chat with you in next UG meet maybe. Thanks again for dropping a line.

  2. Thanks for wonderful post!!.

    Your link with pinal’s blog is not working. Please correct it.

    Regards,
    Jalpesh

  3. Henri says:

    Don’t Dress Casually – I always tend to have doubts about developers overdressing for an interview and probably ask more technical questions when I meet one. But you’re right on the other if someone comes to an interview dressed up like he’s going to his kids’ baseball game, it’s kind of a signal you’re not really motivated and will not even make an effort to look professional. People have to keep in mind that especially with the difficult economy, the person being interviewed is usually the one who needs to do whatever it takes to make it work.

  4. nilesh says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

    Request: Could you please post on how to interview a candidate?

    • Vinod Kumar says:

      Hahaha Nilesh … That will always be an controversial post. Generally have seen methods of interview change from person-to-person and from one organization to another. But this will surely be on my minds as I write.

  5. Sudhir Rao says:

    Hi Vinod,
    Thanks for this informative write-up. Very useful.

    One point I noticed when attending interview with Big companies(dont want to take names here, virutal movers and shakers in Indian IT industry) is that though the interview is set for say 10 am they make interviewees wait for more than 2 hours before the actual interview can begin.
    So what do you suggest should be one’s approach to such behaviour?

    Thanks,
    Sudhir

    • Vinod Kumar says:

      Sudhir – Well, that is not professional on the hiring companies part. Now, depending on how desperate you are for a job, you can always raise it as a concern and leave. But in a nut shell, the respect needs to be mutual – period.

      In any interview (pre, post, during), make the interviewer feel you an asset to the company and there is no reason to delay sending an offer letter. They must want you working the very next day :). I have seen instances when the offer was turned down immediately by the candidate because the offer was released after a months timeframe. All these happen, it is a mind game.

  6. 9. Chewing

    Many candidates come down to the interviewer having a chewing gum in their mouth which will highly impact their ability of speaking properly.

    • Vinod Kumar says:

      That is a nice observation. This surely gets into the category of being professional. Hair grooming also falls into that category. You don’t want to end up to an interview with spikie hair with gel. Being professional is super critical.

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