Did you know that it takes the human brain less than one second to pass judgment on someone’s character? This means that within a tenth of a second of you walking into your interview, the hiring manager has already conducted an evaluation of your initial character based on your presence and appearance alone.
Your interviewer has been trained to identify key signals to help them determine if you have the skill set and appropriate temperament to fit in with the organization and execute your job. The company will most likely have several other applicants interviewing for the role, and limited time to fill the position, so it’s essential for them to take all things into consideration during the interview process.
That’s why, if it comes down to you and another candidate, one thing as minuscule as a buzzing phone can hurt your chances of securing the role. While you are prepping with mock interviews and researching the company, Career Group Companies’ president and founder, Susan Levine recommends these top 10 things you should avoid during the interview.
1. Never Fail to Prepare
Reading the “about us” section on the company website while you’re on the way to the interview will not give you the full scope of what the company does. Now, almost every company has multiple social media pages, an official website, and a LinkedIn profile. Check them out.
How to avoid it: Insta-stalking isn’t just for snooping on exes. Do your research on the company, its founders, and your department.
2. Never Be Late
Showing up late to your interview sets a bad precedent before your potential new job even starts. If you can’t make it on time to your first meeting with your prospective employer, how can they be confident that you’ll show up on time once you get the job? More importantly, being late shows a lack of respect and consideration for other’s time regardless of the reason.
How to avoid it: Take a trip to the interview location if you can to calculate traffic and timing. If you can’t make the trip, type the address into Waze or Google Maps at the approximate time you’ll be traveling over the course of a few days to get a sense of traffic and how long it will take you to arrive. Always give yourself a 15-minute cushion in case of any unusual traffic.
3. Never Forget Your Resume (Bring Extra Copies!)
Your interviewer may already have a printed version of your resume on hand when you arrive, but you still need to be prepared in the event they ask you for a copy. Often, employers will ask you for a copy as a test.
If they don’t have a resume printed before your arrival, rather than have them comb through a sea of digital applications or stacks of resumes on their desk, you can easily hand over a copy to them. You’ll also be prepared if you have to meet with any other department team members.
How to avoid it: Place your resumes neatly in a folder and pack it the night before your interview.
4. Never Interrupt Your Interviewer
Interviews can be nerve-wracking causing some people to appear and become overly enthusiastic. Regardless of how excited you are to list off your accomplishments and ideas for the company—which you should do at some point—it’s important to listen intently and pay close attention to what your interviewer is saying.
How to avoid it: The best kinds of interviews flow naturally. In order for this to occur, it’s critical for you to listen carefully. Take a moment to process his or her words before answering so you can craft a meaningful response. When it’s your turn, feel free to share any ideas, or revisit any of the points the interviewer brought up that will help position you as the perfect candidate.
5. Never Dress Casually
Never judge a book by its cover? Your book cover is most likely always being judged as you walk into an interview. That’s why dressing professional no matter the organization’s dress code ensures a better “safe than sorry” approach. Yes, even dressing casually for an interview at a company with an informal dress code can still be frowned upon. Your interviewer may be wearing sneakers and leggings, but he or she already has the job—you do not!
6. Never Wear Sunglasses on Top of Your Head
Now that summer is in full effect, you might be sporting shades every day. Out of natural habit, most people subconsciously push their glasses on top of their heads when they come out of the sun. Don’t make this mistake. Similar to dressing casually it will give off the impression that you’re not well-polished or taking this interview seriously.
How to avoid it: Keep your sunglasses at home or leave them in your car.
7. Never Forget to Turn Off Your Phone and Smart Watch (Because It’s 2020)
Putting your phone or smart watch on vibrate will not suffice because a buzzing device can be distracting. You’ll have to excuse yourself while you dig in your bag to silence your phone, or constantly look down at your watch as the notifications roll in. Any type of unnecessary interruption is distracting and can make you come across as unprofessional and unprepared. When choosing between two nearly perfect candidates, this type of incident could be the reason you don’t make the cut.
How to avoid: Turn your phone or watch completely off before you enter the office and leave it in your bag.
8. Never Lose Eye Contact
Maintaining consistent eye contact during an interview makes you appear confident, in-tuned and trustworthy. It is widely believed that avoiding eye contact during a conversation can be an indication that you are disconnected or uninterested in the conversation, or could potentially be lying. You may have the usual interview jitters, but your actions could be perceived otherwise if you’re staring up at the ceiling, out the window, or down at the floor.
How to avoid it: Practice mock interviews with friends or family members. Ask them to take notice of how often your eyes drift during the conversation. Record yourself with a camera so you can find and correct any bad interviewing habits.
9. Never Walk in With a Beverage
Unless your interview is in a coffee shop, don’t walk into it with a beverage. It shows a lack of business etiquette, it can be a distraction, and it may give off the wrong impression.
How to avoid it: Hydrate beforehand.
10. Never Project Negativity
Whether you’re having a bad day due to something out of your control or you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, leave it at the door. Everyone has occasional bouts of negative self-talk but don’t sabotage your own success. A negative attitude can be easily detected and everyone from the receptionist to the CEO will be evaluating your performance during the pre-hiring phase.
How to avoid: You landed the interview, right? So, you’ve clearly already impressed them. Use that confidence and take a few minutes to meditate and clear your head before you go in, if needed. Replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations. You got this—be your true, confident self.
Now that you are well-prepared on what to avoid, remember that you received an interview request for a reason. Your prospective employer is confident that you’re just as impressive in person as you are on paper, but you’ll need to prove them right. It’s easy for an eager candidate to overlook the aforementioned gaffes but no amount of experience or education can make up for these critical mistakes. Be sure to double-check our list before your interview and remain positive. Good luck!
About the Author: Susan Levine is the president and founder of Career Group Companies—a leading recruiting firm based in Los Angeles, with offices in New York, San Francisco, Orange County, and Greenwich. Their divisions, comprised of Career Group, Syndicatebleu, Fourth Floor, Avenue Pacific, and events span a variety of industries. They specialize in executive and administrative support, marketing and design, fashion, events, and C-Level placements. As a widely recognized industry name, they pride themselves on placing top-tier direct hire and freelance talent in their dream jobs. They use their expertise to impact the lives of their candidates and improve the company culture of their clients, one exceptional match at a time.
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This story was originally published on July 5, 2019, and has since been updated.