- By Stu Coleman
Knowing the ways you can be your own worst enemy when job hunting will help you avoid silly mistakes and allow the hiring manager to focus on your strengths.
Here are seven things you might be doing to sabotage yourself:
No. 1: That is one sweaty Coolatta.
Look, I believe in getting jacked up for an interview. But, walking in with a sweaty iced coffee, steamy hot coffee, energy drink or anything with foam on it is just disrespectful. Don’t fail the interview before it starts.
You shouldn’t bring anything bigger than a small bottle of water with you, and I would even avoid that.
The company will probably offer you some water, and that’s okay to accept. But, a word of advice, don’t take their coffee.
The company will probably offer you some water, and that’s okay to accept. But, a word of advice, don’t take their coffee. This is not your living room or the corner café, it’s an interview. Take it seriously, and don’t be too casual.
No. 2: Is that what you’re wearing?
Interviews are generally not good venues for fashion experimentation. I get wanting to look the part and dressing to what the perceived culture is for the company, but the interview shouldn’t be about your style, it should be about your substance.
So play it safe, and when it comes to your job interview wardrobe, err on the conservative side.
Stay true to yourself and be professional. The problem with trying too hard is it shows. And, what if you guess wrong? While creative industries may be more open to a fashion statement, I’ve seen firsthand both men and women lose interviews at investment firms because they decided to wear a bow tie with their suit that day.
No. 3: Time and tide wait for no man or woman.
If you are running a little behind but you think you can make it, guess what, you can’t. The universe just doesn’t work that way.
Of course the opposite is true; if you think you are going to be a little early you’ll be way too early.
As a rule, you should walk into the office 10 to 15 minutes before your interview time. Anything more, and your interviewer will be antsy at the thought of you sitting in the lobby for so long. Anything less, and they’ll be wondering where you are.
And, no matter what, make sure you have their phone number with you. If you are not there in that 10 to 15-minute window, call to let them know why.
Even if you walk in a minute late, it might as well be an hour. Don’t risk it.
And if you are early, politely tell the receptionist your name and who you are there to see, followed by, “I know I’m early; can you let Joe know he does not need to rush?”
No. 4: I swear it’s me.
If you haven’t tried to get into any city office building in the last 15 years, good luck. Security is high, and at minimum you’ll need your ID for admittance.
Why someone would walk out the door without their ID is beyond me, but I can’t tell you how many people have to call up to our office from security in hopes I will vouch for them.
Of course, I have security allow them up, but every time I wonder why I have to. It’s not a great first impression.
No. 5: Permission to treat the witness as hostile.
Perhaps we have been watching too many courtroom dramas on TV. Maybe we think every answer should be contained to 140 characters. The fact is there aren’t many questions asked in an interview where “yes” or “no” are satisfactory answers.
Don’t make the interviewer pull information out of you. Answer the question and add a little color to it as well.
“Why, yes, I did slay dragons in my last position. As a matter of fact, it was a standard procedure I handled once every week. How do you fight the fire breathers here?”
You get my point, make sure they know, not think, you can do what they need you to do.
No. 6: Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
You’ve heard the phrase, ‘It’s a small world.’ Disney built a theme park around it. The point is, any small discrepancy, either on your resumé or stated in an interview will be discovered. Trust me on this.
People know people and will call someone you’ve worked with, especially if they want to hire you. And, with the technological resources most of us have at our fingertips it is easier than ever to check someone’s statements. The truth will come out.
If you don’t know, or haven’t done, something you perceive the hiring company to need, own up to it. Believe me, the kind of confidence it takes to say, “I don’t know” or, “I haven’t done that, but I would love to learn it from you” is refreshing.
No. 7: You had me at “Hello.”
Unfortunately, your “Goodbye” may have cost you. We all know the importance of the “Thank You” note. So, if something is that important, should you really be doing it from your phone in the elevator on the way down?
What you think is efficiency comes across as just another task being checked off. Be smart; treat the “Thank You” with the respect it deserves. Wait until you get home, and be thoughtful, genuine, professional and personal.
And, for pity’s sake, if you are sending more than one “Thank You” to different people in a company, please make them sufficiently different; they may compare them.