Interview Tips – Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

November 1, 2009

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The interview process has always fascinated me. When I coached at the Growth & Leadership Center, interview skills of our clients were all over the map. While there are plenty of resources for the interviewee, or job candidate, to access to hone their skills at this crucial stage of the hiring process, it’s appalling how unprepared hiring managers are at conducting interviews.

Yesterday at CPC Job Connections, Julie Youngblood from Dear Jane, gave an excellent presentation on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing as a candidate. She alluded to the – um – incompetence most hiring managers exhibit in interviews, including asking outright illegal questions (“are you planning on having children soon?”), mostly from ignorance. But the larger issue is that the fate of the candidate often lies with a hiring manager who is unprepared and, in fairness, never trained in how to conduct interviews.

So it actually presents an opportunity for the candidate to ‘help’ the hiring manager by subtly taking control of the interview. How?

By preparing a one page list of skills and accomplishments tailored to the position and with short stories to go along with the bullets. By handing the hiring manager this document, in most cases they will be relieved and gladly let you take control of the interview by going down the list and highlighting the skills and experiences that show how right you are for the position. It doesn’t always work, and you will come across hiring managers who are very skilled at interviewing, but there really is no down side to being prepared and having a document that highlights your strengths.

Doug Neeper has put together a very good summary of Julie’s presentation on his blog. Here are the Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts:

DO dress professionally.

    DO greet the interviewer(s) with a firm handshake and a smile, and address
    each by surname (Mr. Martin, Ms. Martin).
    DO make and maintain direct eye contact.
    DO sit up straight.
    DO be confident — you’re they type of employee they want!
    DO be yourself; people can tell when you’re faking it.
    DO represent yourself honestly; people can also tell if you’re deceiving
    DO have a positive and upbeat attitude.
    DO give direct and concise answers to their questions.
    DO ask intelligent questions relevant to the company and the job for which
    you are interviewing.
    DO take notes during the interview, but not in such detail that they draw
    your attention away from the interviewer.
    DO ask for business cards from everyone you’ve met.

    DON’T wear heavy perfume or cologne.

    DON’T chew gum.

    DON’T fidget, twist in your seat, wiggle your feet, tap your pen, etc.

    DON’T dominate the conversation.

    DON’T go off on tangents when asked direct questions.

    DON’T get too casual with the conversation; remain professionaland on guard at all times.

    DON’T use slang terms.

    DON’T devalue yourself; be proud of who you are and what youhave to offer!

    DON’T ever speak negatively about former employers or peopleyou’ve worked with; it’s the KISS OF DEATH in an interview!

    DON’T ask questions about salary, vacation, bonuses, or what thecompany can do for you; wait until you’ve received an offer.