10 Ways To Ruin A Job Interview

The Savvy Networker has 10 ways to ruin a job interview. Most of these are kind of obvious but maybe by reading it you can catch yourself if you start to do any of them without thinking about it. Also, it’s kind of fun to imagine someone doing them, like #10: Doing anything disgusting: “One candidate asked me for a cup of water, took a sip, swished it around in his mouth, and spat into a potted plant.”

Here’s my number 11: Don’t try to mimic the interviewer’s postures and then subtly alter them to get them to mimic you back and try to exercise Jedi mind control over the situation. I tried to do that once in college and I think the person eventually noticed and then I noticed that she noticed and that made me nervous so I couldn’t stop copying her so in the end my attempt to “dominate” the situation just got me more dominated. Needless to say, I didn’t get the gig.

Got any job interview gaffes? Share yours in the comments. (Photo: slushpup)

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  1. bilge says:

    If you’re nervous, don’t accept a cup of coffee if offered. You’re jittery already.

    • varro says:

      @bilge: @doctor_cos: It probably would, unless you’re interviewing for Parker & Stone or Judd Apatow’s production companies…

    • Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

      @bilge:
      Plus, it’ll give you bad breath. Not recommended.

      (I’ve had interviewers drink coffee while interviewing me…ugh.)

    • jrizos says:

      @bilge: I once said “yes” to coffee and it turned into this elaborate protracted problem where they didn’t have any ready and had to look all around for the supplies and start making it and it just really, really put them out that I had said yes. Though it wasn’t my fault, it tainted the interview. I didn’t get the job.

      • nakedscience says:

        @jrizos: I’d say, “No, but I’d take some water” because that’s usually easier to get and I need something to sip on when I’m interviewing, or I get Dry Mouth From Hell.

  2. WalrusTaco says:

    12) When they ask you to name your weaknesses, don’t say “Kryptonite.”

    • Ghede says:

      @WalrusTaco: And when asked about little known facts about yourself don’t say “There is a bounty on my head.”

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @WalrusTaco: I would probably give the person the job if they said that, that would crack me up.

    • YourTechSupport says:

      Let’s thi@WalrusTaco: I can think of a few…

      “Memes from The Office”
      “Thinking up answers to that question on the fly.”
      “Your Mom”
      [Article of clothing the interviewer is wearing]

      Is there a right way to answer that question?

      • Residentdrunkgirl says:

        @YourTechSupport: There is – it’s bringing out the positives within a weakness. “My biggest weakness, well, sometimes I have trouble working with other people because I like to get things done and get them done right without much nonsense.”

        • ExtraCelestial says:

          @Residentdrunkgirl: No I disagree. Saying you have problems with other people is a red flag no matter how much you try to spin it. You basically just signed over confirmation that you’re going to be an HR nightmare. No one wants to work with a difficult person no matter how great they are at what they do.

          Saying something like you tend to take on more work than necessary or even that you have problems delegating (tread carefully with that one, especially if you have plans to move to management) because you like to get things done and get them done right etc etc is a much better alternative ime.

        • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

          @Residentdrunkgirl: I actually lost out on a position with a small insurance agency because I was too serious and I used similar words. The boss man said their office was pretty laid back and I probably wouldn’t fit in well there.

          This interview was just after one of his insurance girls was arrested for grand larceny and forgery of insurance documents. (hence the open position)

          • theblackdog says:

            @verucalise: Gee, I wonder why that girl got the bright idea to try and forge documents?

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            @verucalise: See that’s a problem. The best interviews I’ve ever had are fairly relaxed ones, but in every case I’ve always maintained professional speech and demeanor.

            If they think that’s too serious, that is their loss because you’re in an interview…are you supposed to call the boss “dude” just because someone popped their head in and did that?

            And you can’t be faulted for someone saying you’re too serious, when they don’t know you…it seems like if you’re saying someone won’t fit in at your work environment, you’re judging the person for no legitimate reason…people can do a job well without knocking back drinks every Friday night with their coworkers..it’s not like if someone had a major attitude problem or a drug habit.

            • RedwoodFlyer says:

              @pecan 3.14159265:

              Interview at Southwest, jetBlue, Finnair, or any Virgin airline (besides Virgin Blue and Virgin Nigeria)…the kryptonite answer would easily add 5 points (out of 100 for Virgin group co’s) to your profile…

          • trujunglist says:

            @verucalise:

            Let’s see, my biggest weakness is that I tend to steal and forge documents. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, if you could call that a weakness.

      • Psychicsword says:

        @YourTechSupport: Yes there is. “I cant think of any right now but as people make me aware of some or I notice something becoming a problem I try to correct it as quickly as I can” that is what I would say.

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        @YourTechSupport: Generally, yes. There’s some stuff that you want to avoid mentioning, like the aforementioned problems working with people, but usually the way to answer the question is to give a negative, but try to shine a positive light on it (i.e. “I tend to be a little disorganized because I become so focused on my task…”), and then talk about what you’ve been doing to try and fix said negative problem. (“…but I’ve started to start my day off by organizing my desk and creating a list of tasks for the day before I even begin to do any work to help mitigate the problem”).

        • Gtmac says:

          @bonzombiekitty: My greatest weakness is a low tolerance for interview questions like that one. It is a nonsense question with no good answer and does not really get any information from anyone that is useful in making a decision about whether a candidate can effectively perform the tasks for which you are hiring.

          I don’t ask it in my interviews and would not want to work for someone that relied on such a question to judge my abilities and previous experience.

    • MyPetFly says:

      @WalrusTaco:

      If you feel a good vibe with the interviewer, and that person seems to have a bit of a sense of humor, and quick throw-away answer like that before a serious answer could be good.

      • floraposte says:

        @MyPetFly: I’d still say it’s risky, though, in most fields–as an interviewer, I’d be wondering how much deflection you’ll be doing in the job if you’re already deflecting in the interview. Humor in expression is going to get you more credit than a throwaway answer.

      • ARP says:

        @MyPetFly: Do the serious answer first and then say, “…and kryptonite,” or, “…and gelato” You answered the question, you’re distracting him or her from the answer, and you’re showing a sense of humor. Obviously, use sparingly.

    • stanner says:

      @WalrusTaco: You’re recommending that I lie?

    • bigroblee says:

      @WalrusTaco: The response I have always wanted to use for that question is “I react with extreme violence to rejection”.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      @WalrusTaco:

      I usually fall asleep at work because the humming coming from the office machines is very soothing.

    • idx says:

      @WalrusTaco:

      I hate this question. Thankfully, I’ve only been asked that question a few times. Last time I was asked I said something like “That’s a hard question to answer because I always want to say that I work too hard or I care too much or some other nonsense, so I’m just going to be honest with you. Redheads. Followed closely by brunettes and blondes. I can guarantee you that is the most honest answer to that question that you will ever get.”

      Things to note: the interviewer was male, I am very personable, I got the job.

    • GalenAlexis says:

      @WalrusTaco: Or claim your name is ‘McLovin’.

  3. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Would ‘losing a little internal pressure’ (so to speak) make the list?
    Not that I’ve personally done that.

    Most of these are common sense.

  4. yagisencho says:

    As someone who’s interviewed several dozen professional job applicants over the years, items 2 & 5 from their list are the most resonant for me.

    2. Bad-mouthing your previous job, manager, or company.
    5. Answering a question before you understand it.

    To their list, I would add:

    + Lying.
    + Asking too many personal questions.
    + Defensive or passive-aggressive behavior.
    + Pretending to know more than you do (goes with #5).

    • Snowblind says:

      @yagisencho:

      Passive aggressive? What do you mean by that?

    • jscott73 says:

      @yagisencho: Agreed about number 5 but it could also be worded “Don’t answer a specific question with a general claim”.

      I have interviewed a dozen or so people and I always do the behavioral interview part, almost all my questions start with “Can you tell me about a time when…”, I usually pass on the people who only give me general answers or who use the situation as more of a hypothetical instead of a situation they have actually encountered and had to respond to.

      I always give them a few moments to think about their answers, that is what I’m looking for anyways.

    • Vicky says:

      Keep your feelings about how the interview is going close to the vest. One young woman I was interviewing broke into tears during a technical evaluation over the phone. She was probably doing better than she thought: no one expected her to know all the answers for an entry-level position, but her feeling that she had already failed and her obvious despair made it impossible to continue the interview. It’s been about 8 years since then and the memory still tugs at my heart.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @Vicky: If your going to go into it with the attitude that you failed before you even started, or if you are able to convince yourself midway through the interview that you failed before you are even done, why even bother? No one wants an employee with an I already failed attitude.

      • calquist says:

        @Vicky: Agreed. What I deemed as my most awkward interview ever turned into my full-time job. I had assumed that I had totally blown it and was about to take a job with an airplane part company.

      • ezmobee says:

        @Vicky: I once bailed on an interview after the intense technical questions began to make it apparent that I was retarded.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      @yagisencho: As an interviewer, how should I explain getting fired from a previous job because my boss lied and made up a reason to get rid of me because he didn’t like me disagreeing with him (i.e. pointing out something he wanted to do regarding payroll was illegal)? I’m never sure how to explain the whole situation. The guy has a tendency to fire anyone who disagrees with him, but he waits months to do it.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Red-headed bookworm: Was your former boss investigated for this at all? If there was some kind of documentation out there in the media or something, it’s very possible your potential employer would find it if he/she googled the company. Aside from that, I wouldn’t mention the incident specifically, because badmouthing an ex-employer is bad regardless of the situation, but maybe focus on the separation as an opportunity for you to get away from a toxic environment. Badmouthing the boss is not the same as acknowledging that companies are fallible and may not always fit the employee.

  5. Gokuhouse says:

    Bring your own bottle of water. It can give meaning to those awkward moments when you don’t know what to say by simply taking a breath and sipping on your water. This has helped me in the past get through panel job interviews. Those really are hard because you have to connect to 3 or more people all at once. It’s hard to give each person the amount of time needed to make a good impression.

    • octopede says:

      @Gokuhouse: Or bring your own soft pretzel with nacho dipping sauce.

    • Framling says:

      @Gokuhouse: +1

      I always bring one or two half-liter bottles of water to interviews. Mostly because I get all kinds of thirsty when I’m talking a lot.

    • ARP says:

      @Gokuhouse: I would not bring water any more than I would bring a candybar. However, if asked, I would accept, so you can get your prop that way.

      • Gokuhouse says:

        @ARP: Water is quite needed when my mouth gets dry from having to talk to multiple people and being nervous doesn’t help. If I had to wait for someone to offer me water I’d probably already have lost the interview by then because I couldn’t talk.

        • floraposte says:

          @Gokuhouse: Might be worth mentioning that with an “I hope you don’t mind…” then. If a candidate just starts swigging away in front of me I’m going to find it odd indeed.

          • nakedscience says:

            @floraposte: You’d really find it odd if someone brought a bottle of water to occasionally drink from? There is a difference between “swigging” and taking sips from water. If you have a problem with a candadite bringin water in, you have issues.

            • PencilSharp says:

              @nakedscience: “If you have a problem with a candadite bringin water in, you have issues.”
              Ooh… that depends.
              1. Are you a “verbal swallower”? That gets annoying quick.
              2. Is it flavored? Nothing like “Kool-Aid Lips” to project that professional image.
              3. Are you polite? Answering a tough question with an upended bottle: not good.
              4. Are you clinging to your prop? Winos do that a lot.

            • floraposte says:

              @nakedscience: No, I’m representative of a not insignificant group of people who believe eating and drinking are not for business occasions unless it’s clearly authorized. If a candidate is authorizing him/herself on the most formal occasion we’re likely to have, that’s something that I take seriously.

              If you’ve said “Do you mind…” or we’ve provided water (as we usually do, except when we forget), it’s okay. But that’s not something a candidate should be assuming.

              • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                @floraposte: I’ve been in interviews in which they ask me if I would like some water or coffee or tea…I’ve always said no, not because I don’t want any, but I am so terrified of accidentally spilling it on myself (the last thing you want is for an interview to turn into a wet shirt contest) or worse, spilling it onto your interviewer or his/her desk. I know if I’m nervous, which I always am for interviews, the last thing I want is a cup of water in my hands, let alone something hot like coffee or tea.

                • RedwoodFlyer says:

                  @pecan 3.14159265: One of us accidentally knocked over an interviewees water during the paper airplane portion of their interview (don’t ask) and he quipped “I hope you choose to hire me because of my skills/experience, and not because you feel bad about getting water on my suit!”

                  Since he said it in a joking, lighthearted way, and he was qualified…he was given the job on the spot! (Pending the mandatory drug/back ground test etc etc)

      • nakedscience says:

        @ARP: I’ve never had a problem with bringing a bottle of water, and if someone interviewing me has a problem with a bottle of water, then I don’t want to work there anyway. It shows initiative and planning.

        • aguacarbonica says:

          conve@nakedscience:

          I think that initiative and planning would be properly hydrating before your interview. I’m not an interviewer but I would never take a bottle of water to an interview, unless it was all day long. If you can’t hold a one hour conversation without having to drink water throughout, I do think there is something incredibly offputting about that.

  6. concordia says:

    You should always try to be early if you can, but it’s especially true if you’re interviewing on a Friday or late in the afternoon.

    It’s likely that some of the interview panel you’ll be encountering are just normal workers that want to go home, so if you’re late, that’ll make them late too. Believe me, if I was on such a panel and you did that, you’d be at a disadvantage already.

    • samurailynn says:

      @concordia: Also, though, don’t show up 20 minutes early. You’re going to annoy the receptionist, and that could easily make it back to the interviewers.

      • ScarletsWalk says:

        @samurailynn: If you annoy the receptionist in any, way, shape, or form in some offices, it WILL make its way back. I did reception and if the candidates were rude to me, I told the boss because if these people didn’t have the good sense to be polite, how can we expect them to treat our customers the same way?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @samurailynn: You can get there an hour early if you want…just don’t walk in an hour early. I got to my last interview plenty early, but waited in the lobby and then took the elevator 10 minutes before the interview. 10 minutes is perfect. It gives the interviewers time to finish whatever they’re doing, or get to a good stopping point, and it gives you time to calm down or fill out any paperwork they need beforehand.

    • ElleDriver says:

      @concordia: But I wouldn’t recommend coming in TOO early. We once had an interviewee show up nearly an hour early. We were very busy, so we suggested that he go out and grab himself a coffee and then come back, but he insisted “it was fine” and made himself at home in the middle of our (small) office, working on his laptop. I found it to be incredibly awkward and irritating.

      • theblackdog says:

        @ElleDriver: I’m slightly guilty of showing up too early to an interview, but that was due to getting some bad info from DC Metro’s trip planner and not knowing that the trains ran every 5 minutes in the morning (I had flown in from El Paso the day before)

    • ConroyCotta says:

      @concordia: But not TOO early. I’ve has people arrive 30 min to an hour early. Remember that I’m in the midst of my work day, not just waiting for you to arrive.
      Be NO MORE than 15 min early. 10 is ideal.

  7. Ragman says:

    Another thing would be to not answer their questions. I was asked in a behavioral interview “What state would you choose to become an independent country and why?” I answered without much hesitation and didn’t think more of it. Afterwords, the interviewer told me that many college students would say “I don’t know” and would not try to answer, even though there is no “real” answer.

    • seattleperson says:

      @Ragman: so, which state did you pick?

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @seattleperson: How has no one said Hawai’i?

        They have the least ammount of interstate commerce, you pretty much have to go through customs (well…the ag. crap) when entering/exiting, they are geographically hard to access = no goodyear/firestone bearing illegals sneaking in or out, and the value of US Currency varies greatly in comparison to the mainland (ever notice how nearly every fast food ad says “Prices not valid in AK or HI”?). Additionally, their representation in congress has little impact, and it’s not like we’d lose a ton of revenue or pineapples if we axed them. It’s pretty much the Chinatown of the USA (except it’s Japanese instead of Chinese there). Lastly: Amazon.com doesn’t Prime ship there, and losing HI would have a minimal impact on the state quarters program.

        To the person who answered AK because they were also worried about the new countries well-being… while that demonstrates good people skills, it would worry me that you were overly-concerned about the well being of the competition. Why in your right mind would you want to cut ties to a state that produces and contains way more oil than they could ever use?
        The correct justification for AK would be to somehow justify Palin being ineligible to ever be prez!

    • viewsource says:

      @Ragman:
      It’s gotta be California.

    • Landru says:

      @Ragman: I applied for a job at Clorox once and ended the interview early when they went into the “behavioral” part of the interview. It was the weirdest, most intrusive thing I ever sat through. It also felt like the people interviewing me had no idea what they were doing.
      Of course I wasn’t desperate for work at the time, but I think even if I was desperate, I’d still walk. It made me think a lot about what kind of place it would be to work.

    • runswithscissors says:

      @Ragman: I’d answer Alaska. Geographically it is already separated from the rest of the US, yet it has more natural resources than Hawaii (the other geographically separated state).

      I realize as I typed the above that my concern was for the well-being of the newly-separated country, and not as much for the loss it would cause the remaining US. Interesting…

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Ragman: there is a real answer. it’s jersey.

      nuff said. ;)

    • Ragman says:

      @Ragman: I picked Texas. Big economy, prior independent republic, still has some of that independent mentality. The interviewer said that she expected most of the candidates to answer Texas since we were at a Texas university.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @Ragman: That’s a stupid question. I’d probably respond by asking why this interview has so many stupid questions. This is why I don’t do many interviews.

      However! A buddy of mine did have a story about about interviewing someone for a Director of Technology or something at a school district. They starting asking one candidate questions like “Give us an overview of the TCP/IP stack,” to which he responded exactly as I’d respond: asked why they were asking such stupid questions, and then walked out of the interview.

      They offered him the job. He declined. The second choice accepted and, unfortunately, sucked.

      • thesadtomato says:

        @Michael Belisle: A friend told me something like that happened to him. He was interviewing for a IT job, not a lowly one, I might add, and they asked him if he knew was DOM was. He decided right then he didn’t want to work for people who would ask him something he obviously knew in order to be sitting there. He just said, “No, I don’t know what that is.”

        Interviewers asking ridiculously stupid or naive questions just because the question is on their sheet is the worst. When my boss interviewed me for the job I have, she was reading off a sheet but after two or three questions said “Well, you’re articulate, so you already answered most of what I have here, let’s move on.”

    • pz says:

      @Ragman: The correct answer is Vermont. Duh.

      Of course, no matter what the state, it’d be polite if you asked them first.

      • thesadtomato says:

        @mdmadph: Yes, Vermont is the correct answer, since they seceded fictionally in Paul Auster’s recent novel, and also because there’s apparently a huge group of Vermonsters who want to secede.

    • econobiker says:

      @Ragman: I got that you were saying most college students didn’t even know different states.

      Now if they had asked about beer quality…

      • Ragman says:

        @econobiker: It wasn’t a lack of geography, it was that they didn’t expect a question like that. It was an engineering interview, and I think most of them were expecting technical questions.

        I did have an interview where one of the engineers asked if I liked beer – he brewed his own beer. There was another engineering interview where I was asked if I rode motorcycles – he was a biker. Both interviews lead to jobs for me.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Ragman: I’d be funny about it and say New Mexico since many people seem to think that it is not part of the United States. It would have been especially funny because I went to college in New Mexico.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Stay positive throughout the interview, especially during your “black marks”, ie, Firings/Terminations, etc. Interviewers will try to pull negativity out of you, but keeping positive even during those negative questions will help immensely. For instance, if you got fired for a job because of a bad boss, phrase your response similar to, “I was terminated because of a disagreement between my boss and I, though the actual termination came as a shock (It did to me, anyways); I really enjoyed my job and associated duties, and continued to perform above company standards. Even my immediate boss was surprised at my termination by the District Manager, but I don’t hold any sort of grudge or negativity against the company itself.”

    Don’t lie, either. If you hated the job and the termination was really a blessing, try to keep it brief and as positive as possible. “The company and I parted ways on mutually agreeable terms on short notice” is a wonderful way of covering up “I was fired because my boss and I fought consistently and I hated my job.”

  9. Roy Hobbs says:

    True story – buddy of mine was interviewing for a job. The interview was being conducted by a VP and his executive assistant.

    The VP wasn’t being difficult, but the assistant was, to the point that the guy had decided he didn’t want the job.

    When she asked the inevitable question about his 5-year plan, he was tired and cranky and shot back to her – “hey, I saw your MBA on the wall. What part of being an executive assistant was part of YOUR 5-year plan.”

    Then he thanked the VP, got up, and walked out. A friend inside the company told him he ended up coming in second when the candidates were ranked at the end of the process.

    • ElleDriver says:

      @Roy Hobbs: You (or your buddy, as he re-told it to you) make it sound like he came in second, despite his outburst.

      I think he was probably acing the interview, and then was dropped to second, after he decided to be a smart ass. (Most executives generally frown upon being insulted by prospective employees.)

      • Roy Hobbs says:

        @ElleDriver: I know the VP, and I know the guy. He was pretty much guaranteed the job because they both played a certain sport for a small college.

        The guy that I’m talking about is legendary for doing stuff like this to sabotage himself in interviews. He just couldn’t see taking her (the assistant’s) crap if he decided to work there.

  10. howie_in_az says:

    Don’t know your stuff and argue with the interviewer. I’ve been doing phone screens and people may say they have a bazillion years of experience but they cannot answer simple questions. I’m a software developer currently writing Java code, and the first question is “if you have a final List that’s already instantiated, can you still add items to it?” A lot of people will say “no because it’s declared ‘final’”. One person argued with me and promptly hung up after he wrote some sample code and realized he was wrong, but not before calling me an asshole.

    Another one would be the recruiter pestering the interviewer. One guy I screened failed miserably yet the recruiter emailed me another three times asking how he could have possibly failed, giving me BrainBench scores and all sorts of other craziness. At first I was open to re-interviewing him, but by the third email I was very put off by the recruiter. My manager finally let me tell the recruiter that I’d interview the candidate again but should he fail a second time we would no longer accept any candidates from that recruiter.

    Finally, if you’re going to say you have 20 years of experience in something (in this case, the Java language), at least verify beforehand that it has been around for 20 years.

    • lemur says:

      @howie_in_az:

      I’m a software developer currently writing Java code, and the first question is “if you have a final List that’s already instantiated, can you still add items to it?” A lot of people will say “no because it’s declared ‘final’”. One person argued with me and promptly hung up after he wrote some sample code and realized he was wrong, but not before calling me an asshole.

      Wow… someone can be that stupid? I mean, I don’t expect a random guy off the street to know the answer to that question but someone who applies for a Java job? You’d think it was a poor confused soul who thought he was applying at Starbucks.

      • sburnap says:

        @lemur: That you are surprised means you clearly have never interviewed people for a programming position.

        • bonzombiekitty says:

          @sburnap: I’m a programmer and don’t proclaim to be any sort of programming genius or anything, but I can’t imagine what type of people show up for those interviews based on the questions I’ve been asked before.

          I was interviewing for a job in NYC a few years ago. The interviewer asked me “What’s the differences and similarities between JavaScript and Java?”. I told him that besides they’re both programming languages, there’s just about nothing significant that’s similar between them. He laughed and said “Thank god. You don’t know how many people I’ve interviewed that actually think they’re related. I usually have people blather on for 15 minutes and nothing they say is correct”. I got offered the job.

          • howie_in_az says:

            @bonzombiekitty: … I can’t imagine what type of people show up for those interviews based on the questions I’ve been asked before.

            A few coworkers have found the person they interviewed on the phone was not the same person that showed up for the face-to-face interview. Completely different voice, sometimes a wholly different resume. Questions answered correctly in the phone interview would be utterly wrong in the face-to-face.

            I asked one person if he had any experience with JSPs and he responded “I dunno, is it on my resume?” while leaning over the table and attempting to look.

    • Gtmac says:

      @howie_in_az: The answer to that question is like the answer to most programming and general computer questions is “it depends”.

      The answer may be no, but not because of the word final. There’s not enough information to answer the question.

    • godai says:

      @howie_in_az:
      “Finally, if you’re going to say you have 20 years of experience in something (in this case, the Java language), at least verify beforehand that it has been around for 20 years. “

      They why have I interviewed for positions where they required more years of experience in a product then the product existed?

      I interviewed for a position last year that wasnted 7+ years in .net (which came out in 2002)

    • bishophicks says:

      @howie_in_az: It goes both ways. An applicant shouldn’t claim more experience with a programming language than is possible AND an employer shouldn’t ask applicants to have more experience than is possible. Back in 2000-2001 there were many employers looking for programmers with “10+ years of Java experience.”

  11. fenrisulfr says:

    hmm no one said turn off your cellphone, which yea I got a call during an interview and the guy didnt look happy. I didnt get the job.

    • ARP says:

      @fenrisulfr: I had the same thing happen. Luckily the guy was a Star Wars fan and the song was The Imperial March (the menacing song when they show Darth Vader). I apologized profusely and made a joke of it. I’m lucky, I got the job.

    • internal says:

      @fenrisulfr: Yes, please turn off your phone or put it on vibrate. I had an interviewee actually answer his phone in an interview to chat with his girlfriend. When he didn’t get the job he asked for advice on how to improve his chances, so we told him to never answer his phone in a interview and he disagreed with us!

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @internal: I think this person might have overcooked my fries the other day.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @internal: Off is much better than vibrate…Vibrate still makes noise, and it implies that there is some possible scenario in which you’d interrupt the interview to chat or check your sports scores.

  12. devsgurf says:

    One of my last inteviews was completely killed by 2. I was so frustrated with my mgr I couldn’t help the verbal diahrrea about him. I left feeling like id blown it, but I suppose it was a free therapy session and I found a good job elsewhere.

    • sburnap says:

      @devsgurf: I did the same thing. I was working 80 hour weeks and was totally pissed at a number of insane decisions. I thought I aced the technical part and was clearly qualified, but I spent twenty minutes answering the “why are you leaving your current position” question.

      Good for the soul, though.

  13. octopede says:

    A long time ago, I rode the bus to an interview on a very hot day – unfamiliar business park neighborhood, got totally lost. The interviewer actually came and picked me up. Getting back out of her air-conditioned car, I fainted (obviously a poor breakfast). Did not get the job.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @octopede:

      I had an allergy attack at an interview once. I didn’t get the job either. Looking back, I’m kind of glad.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @HogwartsAlum: We actually have random platters of trail mix in the reception area, along with a sign that states the area may contain peanut dust (along with the stupid CA mandated signs that basically say that life may cause cancer).

        Doing so is a good way to weed out peanut-a-phobes without the threat of legal mumbo-jumbo if we outright deny someone a job because they can’t stand peanut dust.
        (We’d still prevail, but the lawyers could use their time for more important things if we just avoid the entire situation…)

    • ScottRose says:

      @octopede:

      My story starts similarly but ends up with me at the interview a sweaty mess. Fortunately the receptionist was really empathetic, and I still managed to be early enough to clean up a bit.

      So my lesson is: When interviewing in Manhattan in July in a dark suit, don’t say “I’m so early, I may as well walk.” Take a cab.

    • Snakeophelia says:

      @octopede: You actually fainted? I’m surprised they didn’t at least offer you a second interview.

      I know someone who finished at the top of his law school class and had a very important corporate law interview lined up, and on the day of the interview, he came down with chicken pox. The company scrambled to set up a video-conference interview and he actually got through the interview just fine, despite being spotted and a tad feverish. He got the job, too; I suppose some employers will see “willing to work while sick” as a plus.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @octopede: I never got the e-mail from the company saying my second interview was in a different location than the first one.

      I went to the wrong location and then locked my keys in the rental car. The guy would could have been my manager took me to where the interview was. I didn’t get the job.

  14. ovalseven says:

    A good job interview goes both ways. You also need to determine if this is really a place you’d want to work. Check out, “The Ten Worst Job Interview Questions Ever” for some more tips.

    [www.businesspundit.com]

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @BathroomDuck:

      I’ve been asked if I was married, if I had children and what religion I was. All three questions are illegal.

      The religion one was a phone interview, and out of curiosity I answered it, and the guy said “Oh, we have prayer meetings at the office every Wednesday. Participation is strictly mandatory, you see. We have a lady who is [my religion] at our office and she’s just fine with it.”

      I reported them to the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights, who told me that they had been cited numerous times for that very violation!

      • the_wiggle says:

        @HogwartsAlum: did anything come of your report or was it just one more for the file?

      • mac-phisto says:

        @HogwartsAlum: this brings up a good point. what do you do when the interviewer (inevitably*) asks the illegal?

        it’s easy to say “call them out” or “refuse to answer” & “do you really want to work for someone that violates the law”. in today’s job market, not everyone can afford to be choosy. any recommendations out there?

        *i only say that b/c it’s happened to me just about every time i’ve filled out an application with illegal questions which is just about every time i’ve applied for a job.

        • jrizos says:

          @mac-phisto: I’d worship any damn thing they asked me to if the job was worth it.

          You can ALWAYS quit.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @mac-phisto: What constitutes as illegal though? EOE forms aren’t illegal, are they? I understand if it’s illegal for them to ask in the context of an interview, but the EOE forms aren’t illegal, are they?

          • mac-phisto says:

            @pecan 3.14159265: i think it depends on how they use the forms – as long as they’re not considered as part of the hiring process, they’re not illegal.

            it’s amazing how that one form (which is supposed to control illegal hiring practices) can actually be used improperly. the form is not supposed to be handled by the hiring office – there should be a separate entity collecting & reviewing the forms. submitting them to the hiring office could result in the data being used improperly. keep that in mind when you are presented with one.

        • HogwartsAlum says:

          @mac-phisto:

          The marriage and children questions came from the same guy. I didn’t want the job anyway; it turned out it was a 6 day a week, $7 an hour job and I wasn’t willing to work Saturdays (I have a standing appointment on Saturday morning). The place was a sleazy-looking car lot. I just didn’t answer it.

          I don’t know if it’s luck or not, but anyplace I really wanted to work so far has not asked those questions. If they did, I’d probably be highly disappointed and not want to work there.

      • econobiker says:

        @HogwartsAlum: It seems like recruiters are particularly idoitic about asking illegal questions. I even called on of them out on it after he asked both if I was married and I had children and he gave me some answer that he needed to know to guage my relocatability. Yeah, sure, like that matters unless he got a bonus for the company -not- spending money on a relocation package…

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @HogwartsAlum: On a similar note…avoid wearing religious jewelry or anything else that would give away your faith.

        We had a flight attendant app that had one of those cross necklaces on, and a lower-management app that had Jesus-fish earrings.

        Technically that shouldn’t influence our hiring decisions….but when we have thousands of others to choose from, and the company is predominantly atheist/agnostic…it’s a good way to not get the job.

    • pz says:

      @BathroomDuck: …Except that these days most people are so desperate for a job that they’ll work anywhere and don’t give a crap about the interviewers…

    • Cattivella says:

      @BathroomDuck: I was once asked how I’d make a peanut butter sandwich. Luckily it was a college job that I didn’t really want in the first place so I gave a half assed answer about pulling out some bread, etc.

      That question pisses me off just thinking about it (and yes, I know they were trying to figure out how detail oriented I am – I should have gone into a tour hour long speech about baking the bread first, gathering the peanuts, roasting them, shelling them, grinding them, etc. – there’s really no end to how detailed you could get).

  15. mattwiggins says:

    This video just became surprisingly relevant:

    [loadingreadyrun.com]

  16. seattleperson says:

    never ever answer the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question with “I push myself too hard/I’m too perfect” or a variant thereof. My old boss would always complain about how people all seemed to answer this question the same way.

    Obviously brutal honesty is not advisable in this situation, but the best approach is to pick something that is slightly out of scope of your potential job (if you are applying for a desk job where you’ll be using basic MS Office only, you can use web coding and design, for example) and say “I don’t have as much experience with that as I’d like to…”. But make sure not to end on that note so your interviewer takes away “applicant not familiar with HTML,”; rather, make sure that you mention tangible things you are doing to improve that skill-”…however, I have enrolled in a class on web design so hopefully in the future I can also contribute my skills in that area as well”.

    I wrote the above pretty quickly so it may sound a bit cheesy, but if you answer that question in a way that makes you sound like you fix holes in your knowledge rather than let them fester, you’ll come across a lot better in the interview.

    • Rugbyjersey says:

      @seattleperson: I think of that question as a way to explain an obvious weakness in the resume. As a college student entering the job market, I’ve usually said my lack professional experience and then explained how I have overcome that in previous positions, or something along those lines.

    • ARP says:

      @seattleperson: Some say you should use that as a means to describe a weakness AND how you overcame it. I used to have trouble doing X, but now I do Y.

      • floraposte says:

        @ARP: I think the question itself just isn’t very good, basically, unless the interviewer is deliberately setting traps for behavioral reasons. I don’t find it brings much useful knowledge. I’d rather ask for examples of weaknesses they’ve worked on or capabilities they hope to improve.

        • seattleperson says:

          @floraposte: I think it’s the kind of question where the interviewer is really not looking to find out what your weakness is, but rather how good you are at answering tricky questions.

          • floraposte says:

            @seattleperson: That’s what I meant by a “trap,” which I guess sounded overly pejorative. However, I still don’t think it’s all that useful in that direction. It’s too cliché and too swervable.

      • seattleperson says:

        @ARP: well the problem is that your response doesn’t address the question. If you say something like that then the interviewer will come back with “well it’s clearly not a weakness for you anymore…tell me about something you struggle with at the moment”. This is one question where interviewers are used to people evading, so if you give a BS weakness (I’m such a hard worker that I lose track of time, etc) or you talk about a weakness that you have already addressed and no longer have then they’ll jump on that quickly.

        • TracyHamandEggs says:

          @seattleperson: I always use my lack of natural organizational skills (I tend to get a bit disorganized when involved in a project), but then bring out my filing system/planner/org chart that I use to overcome it. I fine tune the answer to the job of course, but it has always gotten good feedback that I have already addressed it.

    • Tetrine says:

      @seattleperson: Interviewers are more looking for a sense of humility. What they do not want to hear is along the lines of what seattleperson said, “I have no weaknesses”, etc. Interviewers are looking for someone who can admit when they’re wrong — if you can’t ever admit your errors or ask for help if/when you need it, you’re going to be a very poor team player.

      • aguacarbonica says:

        @Tetrine: I have this nagging feeling that most employers don’t even know what they are looking for when they are asking this question, except that they want a creative or clever answer. I find that ironic because I personally think it’s an incredibly trite question in the first place.

        • mac-phisto says:

          @aguacarbonica: i have a nagging feeling that most hiring managers have no clue what their employers want & therefore create an enigmatic hiring process to mask their own ineptitude.

          of course, that’s just me.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @seattleperson: Hopefully no potential pilot app’s are reading your tip! I can’t wait for the (Air)bus driver applicant to answer that question with: “Well..I’m not an astronaut yet, but I’m working on it”

  17. Jesse says:

    I’m guilty of #5-6 One of the first jobs I interviewed for right out of college in 2007 was for a tax accounting position at a large construction & engineering firm.

    The first guy I interviewed with asked me why I wanted to go into tax vs. auditing. Having no prior expereince I first answered by saying “I’m not going to lie to you” (strike 1), then gave some terrible answer (strike 2).

    The second guy was pretty easy going but he kept drowning on about Canada, international tax, even to the point where he was showing me orgaizational charts. I glazed over (strike 3).

    Needless to say several months later I got a letter saying another candidate was chosen for the position.

  18. mmcnary says:

    I always seem to have a knack for interviewing. Even when I don’t get the job, they usually tell my headhunter they were impressed.

    My toughest interview was done the Friday before Halloween and I was interviewed by Tweety bird, a sheep, a cowboy and a vampire. The company sponsored a holiday party for a local magnet school and these were some of the participants. I think I got that job based only on holding it together for the entire interview.

    • humphrmi says:

      @mmcnary: The hardest part I would have in an interview like that is, when a tough question is asked, not starting my answer with “Aww, thufferin’ thuckatash…”

    • ARP says:

      @mmcnary: Would have failed that interview in a minute, especially if the cowboy and vampire were sitting next to each other.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @ARP: Is there a cowboy/vamp. joke that I’m unaware of?

        @Framling: No kidding! Zappos, Southwest, and us would really look upon responses like that favorably!

  19. Grive says:

    Aside from what the article and commentariat has said (which is mostly spot-on), there’s one very important one:

    Try. Especially in interviews where actual problems are asked of you. If you’re thrown into a situation or question in which you haven’t got the slightest idea of what you’re supposed to do, don’t panic or clam up.

    You should honestly assess your ability (“I’m not experienced in that particular problem type”, “I haven’t come up with a situation like that”, etc), think hard then use common sense in how you’d solve the problem (“it seems to me this would be a good way of going about it”, “I’d have to research x and y before I have a good answer”, “I think this could be a possible solution”).

    In my case, we are a company that has a rather specific engineering niche, and part of our interview for engineers is giving them a quick problem that they likely won’t know how to solve, and ask a certain amount of different solutions. We’re most interested in checking that their answers:
    a) Make sense.
    b) Are different enough from one another.
    c) Are ingenious and not very complex.
    d) Take into account viability (they don’t need to be perfectly viable, just that they don’t assume repulsor beams will be available).

    “Being right” is almost only used as a break when we’re between several applicants with equal marks. Especially when it comes to specialized positions, it’s hard for a company to find someone who’s an absolute perfect fit in terms of skills and knowledge. So a willingess to try, to explore viable solutions, and ingenuity are very important – after all, specific knowledge can be taught.

    And, in the case that the interviewer is actually looking for someone with the specific skillset, then you’re hosed anyway.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Grive: Good advice.

      I’m a sysadmin, and in job interviews when I’ve been asked specific technical questions I don’t know the answer to, I’ve found it’s pretty effective to say, “I don’t know, but here’s where I’d look up the answer.”

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @David Brodbeck:

        So it’s safe to assume that that would go over much better than whipping out your G1/iPhone and showing them this?:

        [tinyurl.com]

      • weave says:

        @David Brodbeck: That similar approach failed for one of the applicants where I work. I was not involved in the interview, but heard from one of the members of the committee that a tech candidate was asked a question and his response was he didn’t know, but if he could have access to Google for a few minutes he could answer it.

        Apparently they didn’t like the answer and he lost on that point. My thought was that it probably wasn’t a literal request, but similar to what you said — and I agree. In my opinion, having an MCSE that demonstrates a skill of memorizing esoteric facts is not as important as someone who can understand a problem and know where to go to find the answer to it.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Grive: That’s very good advice. I had an interviewer throw me a big curve ball by asking me to name a goal I had set but was unable to accomplish. I stopped, thought for a second, then told him I’d need a minute to think about it. He was okay with that and said it was not an easy question. I was able to eventually answer it, along with the followup of “what did you do about it?”

      I got past that interview (he was a screener) and eventually got a job there.

  20. INsano says:

    I’ve interviewed many, many candidates for a non-profit phone bank. I think my most horrifically memorable were:

    1. Brought a friend without confirming first, mentioned her friend was a drug addict so would definitely have to stick around “for a few paychecks”.
    2. Interviewee told me he’d worked at a gym. I asked him why he left. He said he had a problem cleaning up the blood and semen in the saunas. He then giggled nervously and went into far too much detail before I could think of how to stop him. Points for honesty, extreme loss of points for lack of tact.
    3. Prospect reeked of alcohol.
    4. Prospect wore shorts and sandals. And a baseball cap.
    5. Interviewee mentioned she had worked at a mall kiosk selling “Rosetta Stone” products. I joked that I thought there was just one. She had no idea what the Rosetta Stone artifact was.

    • ds says:

      @INsano: Wish I was on the receiving end of the Rosetta Stone joke. “Only one, but we do crayon rubbings if someone wants to take it home.”

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @INsano: Heck I’d reject them for working for that sham of a company…same with people who work for Bose, Kirby/Cutco salesmen, anyone who’s been dumb enough to fall for Amway/Quixtar, etc etc.

      We had a baggage handler who told us that he was currently making ends meet by doing tasks on Amazon Turk (avg. payout is about $4/hr) and occasionally donating plasma.

      We understand that it’s hard to get a job anywhere, and really thought highly of someone who was willing to work so hard instead of just saying “Screw it” and declaring bankruptcy. He was most certainly hired!

  21. YourTechSupport says:

    “Where do you see yourself if five years?”

    “I’ll have “VP” in my buzzard-laden title. I will have a corner off with it’s own washroom, a secretary, company jet privileges, company camel, and a company jet FOR the camel. I will get paid outrageous sums of money for schmoozing clients and oppressing the proletariat. My parachute will be platinum! Bitches! PLAT-IH-NUMM!!!”

    Somehow I still managed to get that job. Then the company folded on itself weeks later before I could start stealing entire supply cabinents.

  22. pepelicious says:

    I think the best way to interview someone is to take them out of the office setting, like to coffee or a lunch interview. Seeing how the candidate interacts with other people in those settings can really tell you a lot about that persons’ values. It also gives you a ton of potential ice breakers so the interview isn’t so rote.

    • thesadtomato says:

      @pepelicious: That’s its own kind of hell, too, and is a standard part of the all-day interview in academia. Potential professors (finalists for the job, usually) visit campus, get taken out to dinner the night before their interview by their future colleagues, then the next day give presentations, interview, eat lunch with everyone again, and then round the day out by touring campus.

      I’d rather not have worry about spilling my water down my front or taking too big a bite of salad or seomthing.

      • floraposte says:

        @thesadtomato: I had four freaking days at a university for an interview. It was interminable.

        • thesadtomato says:

          @floraposte: Oh man. I know.

          I hope you got the job. People on this site are talking about the unemployment rate but they have no idea what academe is like right now. Not only can it normally take 2 years to get a TT job in an MLA/AHA field, but now everyone’s frozen hiring and salaries.

  23. Rugbyjersey says:

    When asked if you would like a glass of water, do not respond,”No thanks, my mouth is full of spit.”

  24. jamesdenver says:

    No one should ever need directions. If you can’t find a place on Google Maps – you don’t deserve to be employed…

    • Nicole Glynn says:

      @jamesdenver: I once had google maps send me to the wrong town. The map showed the right location, but the written directions sent me to a street with the same name in a different town.

    • octopede says:

      @jamesdenver: I don’t think it’s out of line to ask them to clarify the interview location if you’re not certain. But making them give you (‘take a right here…go 3 blocks until you see the King Soopers, then left…’ directions is too far.

      • ARP says:

        @octopede: Agreed, you can ask to clarify/confirm, “you’re just south of Belmont on Broadway, right?” rather than “how do I get there?”

    • SarcasticDwarf says:

      @jamesdenver: I would add that Google Street View is awesome for this. Knowing what the front of the building looks like BEFORE trying to find it (street addresses are impossible to find on most buildings in major cities) is invaluable.

      Oh, and don’t forget to ask where to park!

    • N.RobertMoses says:

      @jamesdenver: If talking to them on the phone to confirm the time, I always have asked which is the best subway to get there.

    • zlionsfan says:

      @jamesdenver: Assuming Google Maps has the location right. (Or, for that matter, that Google even has the location.)

      Our location is off by about two blocks. Doesn’t seem like much of a big deal, but if you’ve never been there before, two blocks is quite a distance, even in this part of town (it’s not exactly downtown with lots of tall buildings or anything).

      Sure, you could look up street view and figure out where you’re going first … but even then, you’d have to figure out that we weren’t where you thought we were, and then figure out how to get there. (Not everyone will see how addresses change, especially not under pressure.) We’ve had problems with caterers, vendors and the like showing up at the wrong location.

      I’ve had a bug report open with TeleAtlas for about five months now. I’m not exactly hopeful about it.

      • James Long says:

        @zlionsfan: We moved into an apartment on a section of road that didn’t exist in any of the map providers. Filed a bug before we even moved in. 14 months later we move out – about two weeks later, I get a notification that they had fixed the issue.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @zlionsfan: Every map program and GPS system puts my parents house on another section of the state highway they are on, on the oppostie side of town from where they really are or else a mile or two off. It is a good idea to leave early for an interview to make sure you get there on time, especially if you are unfamiliar with where you are going.

    • erin_w (formerly femme_dork) says:

      @jamesdenver: When I interviewed for my company, they sent me Google Maps directions. I assumed, being a high-tech company, that they would understand the need for having current directions and didn’t question them. It was my first time in the state (let alone the area!), and when I trusted the map and directions, it was outdated and wrong. The GPS in my rental car was crap, as well, so I ended up kind of winging it.

      Thankfully, I left early enough to plan in time for getting lost (when I get lost, it’s never “just a little lost”…it’s “REALLY LOST”). I got there about 10 minutes early. I sat in the parking lot for 5 minutes to calm down and let the jitters pass…then went inside and aced the interview.

      Moral of the story: I couldn’t trust the technology they’d provided me to get to their location. Next time, I won’t assume ;)

      • erin_w (formerly femme_dork) says:

        @femme_dork: I should also add that the directions were given to me in an email. It wasn’t a Google Maps link…it was just directions that were copied and pasted. You’d think they’d check up on that :)

  25. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    So would it be acceptable to answer one of those problemsolving questions of the type: “You have two cows in a room with no windows or doors, one of them farts, the other one’s not happy. How do you get a third cow in the room to make all of them happy” kind with a:

    “You’ve gotta be f***ing kidding me!”

  26. Brie says:

    Don’t text during the interview. A retail mgr friend of mine had started interviewing a kid when the kid’s phone beeped and he whipped it out and started texting. She said graciously, “Is everything okay? Is there an emergency?” He said, not looking up, “No, it’s cool, keep going.” She said, “Oh. Well in that case, why don’t you go take care of business and we’ll do this another time,” ushered him firmly out of the room, and “forgot” to call him to reschedule.

  27. HogwartsAlum says:

    Oh I just thought of one that happened to my former boss (she left the company; I’m still there). A guy came in for an interview for a sales position and when she came around the corner and he saw her, he ROLLED HIS EYES.

    I don’t know whether it was because she was a woman or he just didn’t like the way she looked but THAT resume went right into the round file the second he left!

    (She said also that he was very arrogant in the interview.)

  28. SarcasticDwarf says:

    For all the griping about bad interviewees, there are at least as many bad interviewers. My list (having done less than a dozen interviews in my professional life [25 now):
    1) The interviewer should be available for the interview. If not, they DAMN WELL BETTER have a backup plan.
    2) Make absolutely sure the job posting is unambigious. I went into a freshmen college internship for a basic programming position. The night before they e-mailed me a three-page job description that indicated that they wanted serious programming experience. REALLY akward interview.
    3) A company a family member worked for (and was REALLY well known at) did a half-day interview with me for a position. Come to find out they decided to hire an internal candidate. That company magically ended up with a really bad reputation among students at the local college.
    4) Make the interview process clear. All candidates should know the length of the interview and who is interviewing them beforehand.
    5) If the candidate has already stated that they have another offer pending and that the normal two interviews need to be compressed into one, don’t be surprised that they say hell no when called that afternoon to set up the second interview for the following week.
    6) If you have a one paragraph job description and a five page job profile attached, make sure that the applicant GOT the five-page profile (current job-did not know about the full profile for three months).

    • seattleperson says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: I don’t see the problem with #3…just because they ended up hiring internally for the position doesn’t mean they didn’t take their other interviews seriously.

      • SarcasticDwarf says:

        @seattleperson: I probably should have clarified…the family member had specifically asked the hiring manager if they had any viable internal candidates and were told they did not. Apparently they knew of the candidate but decided not to tell anyone and wasted a LOT of time from interviewees. While that is “normal” in all industries it is generally a bad idea to both piss off a candidate AND that person’s relative.

    • anyanka323 says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: I absolutely agree with that. I went to a group interview for an administrative assistant position figuring that there would be at most 10 people there for the interview and it wouldn’t take longer than an hour. I was wrong on both accounts – there were 45 people there out of 60 they invited and the whole process – interview plus informational session – took over two hours. In that two hours, the panel spoke for over an hour and the 30 people who stayed got to only answer one question. How could they make a decision about who to interview one on one based on one question???

      I feel that that evening was a waste of my time and if they treat potential employees like that, I wouldn’t want to work there.

    • oneandone says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: Definitely agree with #4. Not neccessarily that you need to tell the candidate who will be interviewing them, but the length. I went for an interview at a small firm expecting to interview with the hiring officer and perhaps my position’s supervisor. I planned on it being 2 hours max, and allowed time for it to go to 3. Long story short, 5 hours later I was still there, after meeting (and talking extensively with) the office manager, supervisor, head of the local office of the firm, someone in a similar position with significant seniority, regional manager by phone, HR manager (to discuss benefits) and lunch with the senior scientist.

      A friend had dropped me off at the middle-of-nowhere office park and had plans to go shopping and pick me up when I called. In the end my friend had to go home and rather than cut the massive interviewing short, I decided to ask the HR lady to drive me to the train at the end of the day.

  29. Corporate-Shill says:

    Be nice to all company employees you might encounter and watch what you say to those employees as some of them might actually be working for The Boss.

    Way back when I was doing entry level work, I had the office by the front entrance. I would intercept prospective employees as they entered the building and instruct them to wait in my office while the department supervisor was finishing the previous candidate.

    Might wait 5-10 minutes.

    I was the pre-interview to the actual interview.

    Feigning interest in what I was doing was important. Getting in the way of an employee (me) trying to perform his normal tasks was not desirable. Asking me questions about lunch times, group versus individual vacation periods, holiday work schedules etc were safe questions… unless I thought you were only interested in time off.

    Taking the only chair in the room (my chair) was never a good idea.

    Remember, I might be “older” but I might not be that much older. I might have attended the same school, or have family members in your school. Talking bad about my brother’s fav professor is never a good idea, unless I don’t value my brother’s opinion.

    After the interview, stopping in and saying you enjoyed your visit and hope I put in a good word for you is a nice touch. Ignoring me as you departed was never a good idea.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Feigning interest in what I was doing was important. Getting in the way of an employee (me) trying to perform his normal tasks was not desirable.

      @Corporate-Shill: So basically, there was no way you could win in the secret pre-interview.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      @Corporate-Shill: How about a pleasant greeting and patient, unobtrusive waiting? I’m just trying to imagine what you could be doing (other than having your attention on the screen) that would cause one to express interest.

    • Wormfather is Wormfather says:

      @Corporate-Shill: Thanks! My co-worker was just asking for the definition of “Power-Trip”.

      Kudos.

  30. Outrun1986 says:

    The worst interview I ever went to was when I was sitting in the receptionist’s office, the employees were only a few feet away working, in this particular environment the receptionist’s desk was in the same room as the employees. I was sitting by the receptionist’s desk waiting to be interviewed and the employees start throwing passwords around between each other, they were saying hey do you know the password for program x, then the other guy would be like, yeah I do its xxxx. Now I could overhear everything, and if this information fell into the wrong hands it could cause them problems. I did not mention this during the interview but it was clear that this place had no clue when I asked them what operating system they had on their computers and they said I don’t know. I didn’t get the job, don’t think I would want to work for them anyways.

  31. rockasocky says:

    When asked “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” DON’T say “doing your wife”

  32. Cat_In_A_Hat says:

    What a great article to read on the day I found out I didn’t get a job I interviewed for. Good thing I didn’t do any of those things… :::places hand to head:::

  33. Bittles says:

    I have one that will for sure guarantee no employment.
    I was getting an interview with the SLC apple store after having been laid off by Dell, following their mall kiosk closures in January of 2008.

    I had watched Seinfeld the previous night. It was the episode where Jerry tries to return a jacket “out of spite”. When asked during the interview why I wanted to work for Apple, I said “out of spite.” I thought it was hilarious, however, the interviewee did not

    Needless to say, I did not get the job.

  34. jacques says:

    I worked at a place where we were interviewing for a help desk entry-level job. One where people would need to have an interest in tech or some computer knowledge, but not a highly technical position, at least to start. We were willing to train. Anyhow, there were two categories of people who came in:
    -liars, and
    -bigger liars.
    Don’t make up stuff on your resume, since when you get questioned on anything that looks suspicious, the truth comes out.

    Unfortunately, one of the candidates we liked had taken public transportation on that very hot day, and was sweating like a rotisserie chicken. No a problem for us, but the idiot CIO deep-sixed him for that one reason.

    • oldgraygeek says:

      @jacques: I used to do Help Desk tech interviews (see horror story below).

      I made up a set of questions ranging from easy (“What’s the keyboard shortcut to open the Start menu?” [Ctrl+Esc]) to trick (“How do you get into Safe mode in Windows NT?” [you don't]) to real-world (“What do you suggest when a mail merge into Word from an Excel address list keeps locking up?” [Export the addresses to a .CSV text file]) to nobody-ever-gets-’em-right (What’s the keyboard shortcut for a right-click?” [Shift+F10]). I used this list to winnow down the candidates. It was kinda like the SAT’s, in that I didn’t expect anybody to get them all right.

      The candidate who got an almost perfect score, and got hired, turned out to be a huge pain in the ass.

  35. runswithscissors says:

    Interviewer: “So, what relevant experience do you bring to this job?”

    Interviewee: “I worked on Wall Street from 2003-2008. I was instrumental in driving a venerable financial institution into a gajillion dollars in debt, wiping out thousands of jobs and millions of investment accounts. I personally made off with a golden parachute of $50 million, plus the $300 million in bonuses I paid myself.”

    Interviewer: “How would you like to be our new CEO? Here are the keys the the company jet…”

  36. missdona says:

    * Wear appropriate clothing
    * If you call yourself an expert at a particular software package, you better have real life examples about how you used it. Be able to discuss details.
    * Be concise. Don’t recount moment by moment ever day of your work career on your resume. You’re not “adding detail”- you’re annoying me.

  37. PLATTWORX says:

    I had a woman once admit in an interview that to discover who in her former office was stealing food from the department refrigerator she laced her lunch with Exlax and the quilty party was sent to the hospital because she must have used too much, but was VERY proud her plan worked!!!

  38. fatcop says:

    Ben got busted mirroring? That’s funny. I used to do that when I was a salesman, just subtly.

  39. oldgraygeek says:

    I was doing the technical part of an interview for a Help Desk position. An older gentleman, who walked on forearm-brace crutches with great difficulty, seemed to be deliberately flubbing the questions.
    After I left the room, he made this comment to the African-American manager doing the bulk of the interview:

    As I get older, I find myself working for people who are younger… and of a different color.”

    When the manager shared that comment with me, I immediately called our HR department and warned them that this applicant was planning to sue us for discriminating against him for his handicap. They had us document our conversations with him.

    I was right: his EEOC complaint arrived at the home office about three weeks later. Our documentation resulted in its being shot down.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @oldgraygeek:

      I’m confused. How did you know that he was going to sue? (I’m a job newbie)

      • godai says:

        @aguacarbonica:

        He guessed based on.
        1. He saw the person was having trouble answering the tech questions.
        2. The comment he made bring up race and age is basically a racist comment.

        So taking those into account interviewer took the interviewee to be an entitlist. (There may be someone better at the job but I deserve this because I’m special.)

        Least thats my take on it.

  40. fatcop says:

    If you ever get the question, Elihu Root was the most effective and powerful member of the Teddy Roosevelt administration. He was both foreign and domestic policy advisor.

    Where are these kind of questions when I interview???

  41. quizmasterchris says:

    You have every right in the world to know things like what the benefits are and what the work environment will be right off of the bat. Why not? Why waste everyone’s time by not letting people know this until later in the process?

    These job seeking articles and career advancement articles are so demoralizing… the basic message is always “grovel, in the you-love-Big Brother manner which suggests that groveling is your natural state!”

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @quizmasterchris:

      You don’t have a job offer yet, and those sorts of questions are off-putting. Sorry, but that’s our culture. Even if you are a very qualified candidate, asking about the benefits before you even have a job offer is as good as telling an employer that you’re sizing them up – you should be, but it’s not tactful to state outright.

      Also, what good is knowing the benefits of a job before you even have an offer?

    • lCraesHarbor says:

      @quizmasterchris:

      It’s alright to ask some general questions, but don’t dig too deep into details like co-pays or fringe benefits. It’s also not really an appropriate conversation to have with your interviewer. The odds are good that your interviewer is the hiring manager, not HR’s benefits manager. If you need specific questions answered during the interview process, send an email to your initial point of contact – who probably IS someone from HR. Otherwise, save the questions for the offer process.

  42. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    #11: Shoplift from the establishment you are interviewing at on your way out.

    I’d like to say he was a viable candidate up until that point, but I’d be lying. He was a stupendously undereducated loser who couldn’t answer the question “Why do you want to work here?”

  43. Maulleigh says:

    Whew! I don’t do any of those things….anymore….

  44. Cocotte says:

    I once asked an interviewee why he was interested in working in the field in which the position lay, and he said he regarded it as a stepping-stone, saying “I figure if I can get a few months experience in THIS then I can get the job I REALLY want in [other industry].”

  45. The_IT_Crone says:

    11) Every part of the interview team is important. I’ve had several candidates refuse to shake my hand, ignore my questions, won’t meet my eyes, etc because I wasn’t the most senior person in the room.

    12) Lie or exaggerate your skills. I will find you out.

    13) Think that because I’m female that you are suddenly in a more dominant position than me or more knowledgeable.

    14) A good handshake is a must. If I just feel like I handled a dead fish I will not think much of you.

    15) When questioned about part of the job, don’t say “oh, I usually have my coworkers do that because I don’t like doing it.”

    16) Don’t show up in a wrinkled shirt, unkempt hair and for hell’s sake SHAVE. If I don’t think you put any effort into your appearance for the INTERVIEW, I am terrified on how you may appear at work every day.

    17) Don’t be a no-show, no-call and expect us to grant you another interview time.

    I could list hundreds.

  46. redkamel says:

    Speaking of handshakes, any tips on avoiding the “early grip”

  47. Jetgirly says:

    I interviewed with NBC for an overseas position (interview took place overseas). At the end of the interview, the interviewer told me my SCORE in a variety of areas, including “personal appearance”! I got nine out of ten on personal appearance, which was quite nice. I left the interview with a big smile on my face and went to the nearby IKEA. When I went to the bathroom, I realized that the seam running up the back of my skirt had ripped and the goods were in full view (under nude pantyhose). That explains the nine out of ten…

  48. Brazell says:

    I interviewed a kid for a job today, he did a good job although he was pretty nervous. I shouldn’t say “kid,” he’s my age… but … I dunno, he acted like a kid in the interview. So I am totally not contributing, but whatever

  49. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    “How have you grown as a person?”

    “I eat a lot of pizza.”

  50. lCraesHarbor says:

    Oh dear, let me count the ways. I’m a recruiter for a Fortune 500 company that hires a lot of recent college grads, and the list is endless.

    -Don’t wear anything to an interview that you would wear to a club.

    -Don’t tell your interviewer anything you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with, say, the police. I asked a candidate about a time she had changed her mind about a decision and she told me about a drive-by she helped plan but chickened out of participating in.

    -It’s ok to think a minute before you speak. I once asked a candidate where she saw herself in 5 years and was told, “Knowing things. Like, knowing knowledge about everything.”

    -Have someone else look over your resume before you send it out. I stop at the first spelling error that I’m reasonably sure spell check would have caught had it been run.

    -Do some research. When you’re asked what about the company interests you (and you will be) have an reasonably articulate answer ready. “I like to shop there” is not a good answer.

    -Don’t apply for a management job and tell me you see yourself in advertising in five years.

  51. HYDRAULICMONSTER says:

    I think the most important rule would have to be “Actually be remotely qualified for the job that you’re applying for.”
    When the manufacturing plant I work for was hiring CNC machinists last year the very first thing that the interviewer would do was ask the applicant if they could read a set of calipers and a 0″-1″ micrometer.
    This was a requirement listed in all the want ads. They all said yes. The interviewer then had them prove it by giving them the tools and a finished part.
    Barely a third of the applicants to do this simple yet essential skill.

  52. Dansc29625 says:

    When Dropping off your resume/asking for an application don’t ask about smoke breaks.

    all i got for ya.

  53. momma_andrea says:

    I have been on many hiring panels, and I hate it when people go on and on with an answer. In most cases, less is more when you are answering the question. Let the interviewers follow up if they want to learn more, but don’t bore them and waste their time prattling on about how you had to inventory office items including pens, pencils, paper clips, notepads…get my drift.

    Practice answering completely buy succintly. Have a friend practice interviewing you. If you keep it interesting for them and they stay engaged, you are set. If not, tweak your answers.

    And pay attention to the interviewers body language. If they are tuning out, you will be able to tell. At that point, close your mouth.

    A shorter interview is sometimes better. You have gotten less rope with which to hang yourself, and you have shown that you won’t be that guy or girl who makes the team meetings last three hours.

    Oh, and be sure to at least send an e-mail thank you, if not a real, paper thank you. And know something about the company and industry you claim to want to work in!

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @momma_andrea:

      “And pay attention to the interviewers body language. If they are tuning out, you will be able to tell. At that point, close your mouth.”

      And thisss is why I hate phone interviews. I’m very good at reading nonverbal cues. In the absence of them I’m nervous that I’ll get on someone’s nerves.

  54. Garbanzo says:

    Another no-no: asking personal questions of the interviewer / level-jumping

    During chit-chat while interviewing a candidate I mentioned something about my husband. She interrupted me and demanded, “Why don’t you wear a ring?” The candidate was rejected.

    When my coworker asked a candidate, toward the end of an interview, if he had any questions, he asked her what she did on the weekends. He was rejected.

  55. ShortBus says:

    Having been unemployed for five months now (in Michigan of all places), I always seem to think back to the succession of Red’s parole hearings in the Shawshank Redemption. I’m pretty much at the point that I just want to tell the interviewer that I don’t really give a shit anymore and that they should stop wasting my time.

  56. LiC says:

    I hated getting interviewed in undergraduate school. I was honest on my resume and listed my work experience with DisneyWorld (That awful internship program they’ve got). All the interviewers wanted to talk about was Disney, and I think I destroyed their hopes and dreams because I told them the truth.

  57. meechybee says:

    As an employer, practice talking about money (salary, benefits, etc.) with a straight face.

    Seriously, people put so much effort into what they wear and how their resume looks, but can’t tell me how much money they want. I can’t stand people who can’t hold a serious discussion about money. If you can’t give me a straightforward answer about money, how can I trust you with any part of my business?

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @meechybee:

      I don’t know if you are talking about people who are very experienced in the job market and already have a salary history. But as a soon-to-be college undergraduate, I really am sort of at a loss. I don’t want to undercut myself but I also don’t have any experience so I can’t overstretch my boundaries. It’s easier to put a value on previous experience than it is to put one on a liberal arts education, a thesis, and some fancy extracurriculars.

      • thesadtomato says:

        @aguacarbonica: No it’s not. Pick a number that you’re comfortable with and ask for it. Especially if you’re a woman: women NEVER ask for enough money or usually even attempt to negotiate their salary.

        Whether you’re an old pro or a recent college grad. If it’s the latter, you’ll get offered $24,000, maybe for your entry level job. Then say, I need 28k. They’ll come back with less, and then you can take that. Or negotiate flex time for yourself, or take a lower salary and say you’d like to be reviewed in 6 months for a raise. Always know what you’re worth and negotiate.

  58. meechybee says:

    Oh, I’ve had the awesome experience of having a potential employee show me work of “theirs” that I actually did when I was at the same company years prior.

    Do not do.

  59. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    Right out of HS I got an interview at Home Depot. I was doing good in the interview, then I was filling out the paperwork and a huge drop of drool came out of my mouth and right on the application. They never called me back.

  60. JanDuKretijn says:

    A mistake I’ve made is to not drop them a line after the fact to thank them for their time and consideration.

    A few years ago I was living in DC and had a few really promising interviews. But I had a total lapse of judgment and just simply forgot to touch base with these people a day or two later to thank them. I don’t know what I was thinking, since this is the sort of thing I do in my non-job-applying life. Just don’t forget to do thank them again late via email or phone.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Always be nice to the secretary. I always asked the secretary what the candidate was like because she saw the person in a relatively “disarmed” state. You know the person will kiss up to you in any case because you’re the interviewer.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @LeonardoAglaea:

      Being the receptionist, I have seen a lot of people come in to either fill out apps or for interviews and I WILL flag you!

      I made a PowerPoint about this just for laughs and put some stuff like this in:

      - Be polite. If you are rude, the receptionist will flag your app at the speed of light.

      - The receptionist does not want to hear your life story. [I HATE this)]

      - If you cannot fill out an application without a boyfriend, girlfriend or parent along for “moral support,” chances are this job is not for you. In fact, ANY job may not be for you.

      - For God’s sake, DON’T PUT YOUR GUM UNDER THE DESK.

      - DRESS: The more conservative, the better. Do not wear jeans and a hoochy-mama top with flip-flops.

      - If you are a man, do not wear jeans and a hoochy-mama top with flip-flops.

      - Don’t drown yourself in perfume or cologne. There’s no faster way to end an interview than giving your interviewer a fatal asthma attack.

      - If you give your interviewer a fatal asthma attack, don’t ask, as he/she is being wheeled into the ambulance, “Does this mean I have the job?”

      - Bring all your information with you. It makes you look like an unprepared doofus to have nothing.

      There’s more but that’s the general gist.

    • Yamunation says:

      @LeonardoAglaea:
      Everyone says be nice to the receptionist.
      While I totally agree, it’s important to be pleasant to everyone during an interview, I’ve never asked the receptionist what they thought of someone I was considering hiring. I decided that myself.

  62. Jeff McRae says:

    A few years back after a long period of unemployment I applied for a job with a slightly nebulous description. About halfway through the interview, I decided that I really wasn’t interested so I upped the honesty level.

    When asked “what is your greatest weakness?” My response was “Friday afternoons. After lunch on Friday I tend to check out, mentally, and not really be interested in doing any work and will usually leave early”. The interviewer (the VP of the place) leaned back and said hmmmmm, and continued the interview. Two weeks later they called me back and offered me a job, the VP said he appreciated my bold honesty to a question to which most people give BS answers.

    1. I took the job.
    2. I still have that job, 3 years later.
    3. The job has evolved into something I really enjoy and am very good at.
    4. I don’t do anything after lunch on Friday and usually leave at least an hour early. I keep my promises.

  63. spoco says:

    I took an interviewing class in college and it was the best thing I ever did. Was not required for my major, and the communication professor that taught it was a former interrigator for the FBI.

    It was one of the toughest classes I took but it gave me every worst case scenario to look for. I have never been nervous or feel that I have done bad on an interview. In fact I have gotten every job I have applied for except for one, which I interviewed four times and was later told that I finished second.

    We always joked with this professor that he could probably make more money as a private interview preparer than teaching communication at a state university.

  64. vdragonmpc says:

    Actually these folks writing the ‘what not to do in interviews’ should pay attention to some other facts.

    These interviewers who act like they are some kind of elite masters should remember the shoe can pop onto the other foot later:

    I went to an interview for a job that was actually ‘offered’ to me by the guy that ran the program. I did not know that I would be in a ‘panel interview’ until I got there. I was stressed as I was at a charity event that morning and had to bail out of the fun stuff for the afternoon interview. There were 2 idiots that kept asking extremely detailed in depth networking questions and after the 3rd question I was done. I told the group that I appreciated the opportunity to interview for the job but they were looking for a much different candidate than what they had listed for.

    The chairperson walked with me outside and apologized for the behavior and we talked for a while about some ideas for their program. Nice guy. BIG job to work with.

    Guess what happened a month later? Those two fools came to me for interviews. Guess what questions they got from me? Yup they could not answer their OWN interview questions. I wrote them down and looked them up later.

    Ahhhh the justice.

  65. SanDiegoDude says:

    I just had an interview on Monday. My fiancee forwarded me this article early that morning and said “Read up and follow!!!”

    One thing I really had to watch out for… My (future) boss attempted to test my professionalism by getting into “relaxed” mode and telling some stories. He started mixing in some bad words. I made sure not to mimic him in this regard, keeping my language professional. This is for a pretty intense sales position btw. Wish me luck, would be one helluva raise if I get it! =)

  66. wellfleet says:

    Dress appropriately!

    I can’t count how many people I’ve interviewed who arrived in shorts, wrinkled shirts, ball caps, torn jeans, sunglasses on head… Even if you’re going into an informal field like gardening or retail, you should still dress up. Pressed pants and a neat polo with clean dress shoes at a minimum. It shows respect and effort.

    Be nice to the receptionist. He/she is the litmus test and you don’t want to fail.

    Also, don’t walk into a place of business where two employees are standing, and ask the male employee if he’s the manager and not even acknowledge my presence. Because the male employee pointed to me and I said we’re not hiring.

  67. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I take issue with this:

    Take the time to think through the question and compose a thoughtful answer. A few minutes of silence in the room won’t kill anybody.

    But they will think you’re an idiot and interrupt your thoughts every 2 seconds by repeating the question and asking if you’re having trouble.

  68. ilves says:

    for my current job i was interviewed by my future team leader and the department manager. as a new interview tool they had decided to ask a few brain teaser puzzles just to see how people react to something unexpected thrown at them. they weren’t anything difficult, but the best part of the interview was when I got one of the questions right and the manager turns to the other guy and says ‘that’s not right is it?’ the guy who ended up being my team leader just looked at him and shook his head and moved on to the next question.

    oh, and if you ever take off your jacket (as in suit jacket) during the interview, my current boss would consider the interview over and not hire you.

  69. richcreamerybutter says:

    Protect your intellectual property; research the position and company, but don’t give them too much to work with. I interviewed with a major media company a few months back, and prepared a (requested) list of suggestions. Fast forward 3 months and although I’m not working with the company, I noticed they had launched an application eerily similar to what I’d suggested.

    I wonder how often this happens on a regular basis.

  70. Dacker says:

    I once interviewed a technical PhD who was a Rhodes Scholar. His resume was so badly formatted, my son at 10 could have made it look better.

    He was not interviewing for a research position, this was a technical job in marketing which would occasionally require a fair amount of lifting, pushing, and pulling large amounts of of heavy equipment used for demos, trade shows, etc. This was jeans and T-shirt work. When told of this, he said, “Don’t you have people to do that for you?”

    Despite my strong objections, he was hired. He turned out to be a lazy first-class jerk.

    Two additional points:
    * A few years later, I checked him out on LinkedIn. He must have lied about the Rhodes Scholarship; you’d post it there if you were a Rhodes Scholar, right?
    * I also learned he used to be the platonic roommate of one of the more influential interviewers. This was never disclosed.

  71. ovalseven says:

    It’s been mentioned a couple of times, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you want the job always send a follow-up letter thanking them for the interview. It lets them know you’re serious about the position you applied for.

    I always made it a point to get the interviewer’s business card so I already had all of the contact info when I got home.

    My last employer told me that it was my letter that led her to chose me over the other candidate.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      @BathroomDuck: Exactly, though on certain occasions if you’re going through a recruiter, they will receive feedback right away.

      Speaking of which, make sure the recruiter sends you the right job description. I totally blew it for a recent interview because I’d prepared based on an outdated description (there are certain key reasons why the proper one was essential in this case). Thanks for nothing.

  72. Prophaniti says:

    Here’s two more gaffes from first-hand experience…

    If you hit the restroom before an interview, WASH. YOUR. HANDS.

    Aside from the sanitary aspect, you never know who that other person that’s in there with you might be.

    I refused to shake the hand of an interviewee because I was in the restroom at the same time they were and I told them exactly why I refused.

    Needless to say, the interview was over before introductions were even made.

    If you feel the need to tell someone how the interview went, wait until you cannot possibly be overheard.

    Some idiot decided to brag to his significant other on his cell phone about how superior he was compared to the panel of “idiots” interviewing him before he’d even made it to his car in the parking lot and that there was no way we’d turn him down.

    Unfortunately for him, I was on my way to lunch after being one of those idiots.

    After walking on opposite sides of a service van that blocked his line of sight, we locked eyes and I gave him “that look.” The face he made was priceless.

    “I gotta go honey, I’ll call you back.” was the last thing I ever heard him stammer.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @Prophaniti:

      Just out of curiosity, how would you feel if you heard an applicant talking on the phone about what a great fit he thought the organization was and how hopeful he was that he’d get the position? Or would that still be too presumptuous?

  73. vermontwriter says:

    I used to do the interviews for a print house/bulk mailing company. Production line work basically.

    I was told to immediately weed out people who showed up carrying briefcases and business suits because they obviously had no idea how grungy production line work can be. I’m not sure I agreed, but I did as I was told.

    But people I opted to weed out:

    Showing up in badly torn clothing or clothing that obviously didn’t fit. Wearing jeans so that the waist is around your knees might have been fashionable, but I’d send you out the door and shred your resume in a heartbeat.

    Women that wore way too much make-up or clouds of strong perfumes.

    People who were late and offered no apology. I also disliked those who showed up half an hour early saying they’d hoped I’d fit them in early.

    Gum chewers who spent the entire time blowing bubbles and snapping away at their gum.

    I also turned down one guy for the job because he’d bullied me and my friends in high school. Pays to remember that your actions early in life might carry through for years to come!

  74. internal says:

    When asked “when can you start?” always say in 2 weeks, unless you have no current job. Anything less shows that if you crap on your current employeer, you will do it to the one you are interviewing with also.

    Don’t get too personal: I have had people tell me they were in counseling and what it was for, I have had people tell me about how their parents were murdered, etc.

  75. glitterpig says:

    I interviewed a guy who looked great on paper. When he came in, he leaned back in the chair, PUT HIS FEET UP ON MY DESK, and proceeded to tell me how he wanted more money than the position offered but didn’t really like to work very much, so he’d need Fridays off and only wanted to work 4-5 hours the rest of the days.

    Oh, also it turned out he’d lied on his resume. But that didn’t really matter at that point.

  76. P_Smith says:

    11. Don’t be – or look like you are – in a hurry. If the employer thinks you’re watching the clock (regardless of whether you have an interview or not) he’ll happily let you leave to talk to the next applicant.

  77. Dethzilla says:

    When they give you an hypothetical angry customer roleplay situation, don’t jokingly reply to the hypothetical angry customer by saying “you sound really angry right now, perhaps you should go have a cigarette and call back when you’ve gained more control of your nerves.”

    …and I didn’t get the job.

  78. Prophaniti says:

    Not at all presumptuous. In fact, I think if I overheard someone jabbering about that sort of line of thinking, it would actually help that candidate.
    It demonstrates a high degree of interest, rather than just a “I need to have a job…any job.”

    The advice I was trying to give is similar to what your mother tells you…if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Especially within earshot of someone that can make or break the job offer.

  79. hotdogcolors says:

    I might have missed it, but I don’t think anyone here’s said to bring about 5 extra copies of your resume to any interview. I’ve been on lots of job interviews in my life, and 75% of the time they either ask you if you have an extra one on hand or flounder around their desks looking for one. It expedites the whole process and makes you look organized if you have one to offer.

  80. Anonymous says:

    From personal experience (being the interviewer)

    - Wash. Seriously, take a shower. If you smell, I am not going to hire you.
    - Dress up. Even though I am working at a relaxed place where we do not normally wear shirts, I will be on my best when I have someone to interview. Yes, I expect you to wear a shirt (no tie, jeans are OK)

    ::emp::

  81. Rosasharn says:

    My reading is that the person deliberately answered all of the questions incorrectly and then, in order to be extra sure he wouldn’t get hired, made a racist comment to the hiring manager. Why go to a job interview and then do everything you can not to get hired?

  82. thaShady says:

    I always wanted to just tell them I don’t have any weaknesses. I’m never late, I don’t get sick, I do what I’m told and I get along with everybody. Haven’t tried it yet, but I am moving to California (from Indiana) tomorrow in pursuit of a career. We’ll see how it goes.