Several years ago, I interviewed a prospective intern who showed up in a top cut so low I could practically see her navel. She slouched into the room, mumbled throughout our little chat, and couldn't remember why she had applied for the job.
She didn't get the job. In fact, I recommended her professor not send this little treasure out for another internship until she cleaned up her act.
Over the years I've been interviewed or conducted roughly 100 job interviews. No exaggeration! With jobs short and money shorter, few of us can afford to blow an interview so, for your edification, I've compiled a list of behaviors to avoid.
(While you're waiting for that job to come through, you might check out our blog post, "Quick Cash: 24 Ways to Make Money While Unemployed."
1. Talking, Talking, Talking
Let the interviewer do the majority of the talking during the early portion of the interview. You need to know what the job and boss are all about, so ask questions and take notes.
2. Turning on the Mute Button
Monosyllabic responses and non-answers won't get you a call back. If you answer, "Can I get back to you on that?" to every question, you haven't done your homework.
3. Restless Twitching
You should at least look like you're paying attention. While some people naturally bob their legs and click pens, these actions distract the interviewer -- and you.
"So how much experience do you have building websites?"
"I've been involved in social media campaigns for my web 2.0 social meeting space. You now, it's really all about branding and community."
5. Trash Talking
Don't, don't, don't insult a previous employer, workplace or co-workers. Even if you quit your previous job because the boss was a total letch, don't mention it in the interview.
6. Over Apologizing
Sure I showed up in a black suit when the CEO was wearing sweat pants, but I never apologized. In fact, "I'm sorry" really shouldn't come out of your mouth during an interview.
They want a programmer who will also take out the trash? Heck, you'll even clean the bathrooms. Stand up for yourself, for heavens sake. Nobody wants a total doormat, except Microsoft.
Sit up straight. Better yet, lean forward a bit. Show you're interested. Bad posture subconsciously makes employers think you can't wait to get back to your video game.
9. Don't Take That Last Puff
The interviewer just might be a fellow nicotine addict or he might gag on the miasma of smoke that enters the room before you.
10. Under Dressing
Batman shorts and a muscle-man t-shirt might get you a job as a lifeguard, but even that's doubtful. Leave the sweat pants, flip-flops and rude t-shirts at home. Cover up top and bottom. I don't want to see your underwear -- anywhere.
11. Over Dressing
I wore a black business suit to a job interview when I should have worn a black track suit. The rule of thumb is to dress one-step up from the job for which you're applying. For example, if you're applying to Mozilla-land, you should be safe with a preppy outfit of chinos and a button-up shirt (untucked, of course) from JCrew. Perhaps Chino shorts in summer.
12. Not Dressing for Success
So how do you hit just the right sartorial note? Men's Wearhouse is a great place to start for everything from IT casual to corporate formal men's clothing. Men's Wearhouse coupons save you money and their staff really is helpful. You're going to like the way you look.
Macy's has always been my go-to store for women's business clothing, both for their selection and prices. Combine coupons with their Star Rewards program and you won't have to spend an entire unemployment check for a new interview outfit.
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