Interviewing is like dating. You never know what you’re going to get until you’re in too deep.
Throughout my years as a recruiter and hiring manager, I’ve been a part of some outrageous interviews, from those looking to find employment through my company and those looking to get promoted within the company. It’s a tricky process. And sometimes it feels like there’s a secret code that no one talks about.
In my attempt to help make your inevitable career transition (at some point) easier, I’m putting together some free resources for you to keep on file. I’ve surveyed dozens of hiring managers and recruiters and have put together a short list of 6 things EVERY interviewer hates.
Some of them seem obvious and some even seem petty but interviewers are a sticky bunch. The more you understand them (agreeing with them or not isn’t the point), the better your chances of getting a job or getting ahead.
1. Having No Questions
A good interviewer will spend time preparing to meet you. They’ll look over your resume, they’ll check your references (eventually), they’ll look at your social media accounts. They take the job of meeting with you seriously. Nothing irritates them more than interviewing someone who hasn’t put in the time to come prepared. Have a few questions ready to ask.
Do ask about:
Why the position is open
The interview process and how you stack up
Company culture and values
Don’t ask about:
Money (in the first interview at least)
A different position (get this job first)
*Benefits are usually discussed at the second interview
2. A Persona
As interviewers and hiring managers, we see a lot of types. Although many are authentic, others are obviously a characteur of what you think an interviewer is looking for. As an interviewer, I’m wondering not only if you can do the job but if you’ll represent the company well. As yourself.
If you’re introvert, be that. If you love a challenge, say so. Be yourself. It’ll eventually come out if you get the job!
Examples of annoying personas:
The “yes” person. I’m not suggesting you be confrontational but if you don’t truly love spreadsheets and they’re a big part of the job, don’t say you love them.
The overly confident. Confidence is great, in moderation. As with the point above, showing ambition is smart but this interview is about this position. Often the overly confident want to showcase their drive by mentioning a future leadership position they’d be interested in but it’s a total turnoff to the interviewer.
The all-too-comfy. A good interviewer will be able to get you talking. That’s great! Open up and be yourself. However, remember that you’re still in an interview so don’t get too chummy. Particularly squirrel-y interviewers love this- they love to get you comfortable and then to judge you if you step too far out of bounds.
3. Being Late
As with point #1, being late is an amateur move. As someone being interviewed, you’re already being considered by the way they dress, how you greet the receptionist and of course, your punctuality. These things matter. Prepare by knowing exactly where the office is, ask after parking and give yourself a buffer of time. Seriously, it seems petty but I’ve seen it be a deal breaker.
4. Arguing with Feedback
During an interview, you may get (or ask for) feedback. This could be about your answers to questions, your resume, how you’d fit in with the culture, etc. A huge and often over-looked “quirk” is to argue with this feedback. Often if an interviewer mentions something to work on, or something of concern, it’s best to quickly address it without being defensive.
Sometimes as interviewers we don’t give feedback because we don’t want to get into an intense back and forth so we ignore it entirely. If you’re lucky enough to get real-time feedback, take it and move along.
(Need to see this point in action? Check out this clip from Girls. Nowww you get it!)
5. No References
The sign of a great employee is often the impression and relationships he or she has left behind. The reason references are so informative isn’t only because of the answers they give to questions but also the general vibe they give off about the person.
Interviewers look for references with whom you’ve made a good impression, who are eager to speak on your behalf. As I mentioned in my last article, give your references a heads up that you’re interviewing so they’re sure to return any calls quickly.
Bring your references with updated contact info to the interview. Don’t make the interviewer track your references down.
6. Being a Stalker
Follow up after an interivew, absolutely. In fact, ask the interviewer how you can best follow up.
Here’s what I suggest: Write a note or email thanking them for their time after the interview. Connect on LinkedIn. Wait one week and follow up again- express your interest in the job, ask if they’ve had trouble getting in touch with your references and if you can assist them in that. Ask where they are in the process and when you can expect to hear back.
If you hear nothing, you can reach out one more time a week later. If the interviewer doesn’t have the manners to at least let you down easy, don’t lose it. Just let it be and move on.
Often the interview process can take weeks, sometimes months. It’s ok to reach out the first couple of weeks (no more than once a week) and from then on once a month.
While this job is a priority to you, you never know what someone else has on their plate.
Other basic don’ts…as a friendly reminder!
Don’t bad mouth your boss.
Don’t get too personal.
Don’t eat or chew gum.
Don’t leave your phone on (or take a call/check it!).
Don’t forget to look your best…you’d be surprised at how many hiring managers answered “bad presentation/personal hygiene” as a pet peeve.
We’ll all interview at some point. Keep this in your file for that time. And remember, to be true to yourself.
What have I forgotten? Let me know in the comment below! Or if you have a great (or terrible) interview story, leave it in the comments!
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