When someone applies for a job at my email marketing company, VerticalResponse, they usually go through a phone screen first with our HR department. The phone call is pretty good at gauging what the applicant is like, but there are some things that you just can't know until you meet the prospective hire in person.
Lately, I've been seeing lots of job applicants because we're in the middle of a hiring spree. And I've got to be honest; some of the things that I've heard or witnessed blow my mind.
I know that in a job interview, the interviewee is also making sure he or she likes the company and its people, and that we're a good match. But there's definitely a line that a job applicant shouldn't cross when it comes to what to say or how to act.
If you're searching for new opportunities, don't make these job interview faux pas:
1. Don't swear.
Yes, we're a tech company in San Francisco, and we're pretty laid back. But you just don't know who you might offend, and you'll likely do more harm than good.
Better yet: Keep the potty mouth at home. If you feel an f-bomb looming on your tongue, "freaking" is a good fallback.
2. Don't talk stock options.
Anything related to money should be left off the table unless the interviewer explicitly asks you about it. The worst is saying you're leaving your last job because you're all vested in your stock options.
Better yet: When asked why you left your last gig, say, "I feel like this is the next step for my career growth" or "I think I could really add value to the team here."
3. Don't bash your current/ex-employer.
You might be getting interviewed by the person who is besties with your ex's chief marketing officer. Plus, it makes me wonder if you'll be saying horrible things about my company in the future.
Better yet: Either say, "The management and I had differing opinions" or "I really want to grow in my career."
4. Don't ask the VP of sales about dental insurance.
Try to keep your conversation focused on your achievements and what you can bring to the company.
Better yet: Save HR questions for the HR person or your hiring manager.
5. Don't slouch in your chair.
I might sound like your mom here, but it's true. Bad posture is just poor form when you're meeting someone for the first time and trying to impress.
Better yet: Be attentive and be excited that you might get this job.
6. Don't say you weren't looking for a job.
I get that people are often approached by recruiters with new opportunities, even if they weren't specifically looking. But if you're taking the time to come meet with my team, I assume you're game for something new.
Better yet: If you really aren't interested in a new job, don't come in and waste the time of five very busy people who took the time to meet you.
7. Don't stuff food in your face before you answer a question.
True story; someone actually ate a bagel during a job interview. It was distracting, to say the least.
Better yet: Eat before the interview. It might even help calm some nerves.
8. Don't say you might have to take a call during the meeting.
When the interviewer walks into the room, don't tell him or her that you're waiting to hear back from the movers and might have to step out to answer the phone.
Better yet: Know beforehand how many people you're going to meet, assume each meeting will take about 30 minutes and plan your day/calls/etc. accordingly. The movers can wait.
Got any interview horror stories? Would love to hear 'em in the comments!