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Chris LoCurto

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April 23, 2012

4 Things You Should Never Do In A Job Interview

Interviews are never really fun. I don’t know anyone who says, “I love going on interviews.”  If they did, I would be seriously worried about them. They are probably a career interviewer.

Most people dread the interview because they aren’t sure exactly what they should or shouldn’t say. I completely understand this. I’ve been on a few myself. But I have a lot of experience doing the actual interviews. And since I’ve been behind the desk more than in front of it, I’ve had plenty of time to discover the things I don’t want to hear from a candidate.

Here are just a few interview downfalls:

Leaders, pay attention. You should be looking out for these too.

  • Do you sail? – Growing up in Lake Tahoe, I spent many of my summers sailing. In my old office, I had two pictures of old wooden sailboats and a model of a wooden sailboat. It wasn’t uncommon for and interviewee (or a salesperson) to ask if I sail. That alone, no problem. But when you try to talk like an expert on sailing and you have no clue about sailing, I’m done with the discussion. Taking that tack (sorry) is great when you know about a subject. It’s a bad choice when you don’t.
  • Do you have dental? – I have absolutely no problem with you wanting to know what our company benefits are. But when you ask me early on in the interview about them, you show me one very important thing: You’re all about getting a j.o.b. instead of being on fire for the opportunity I’m offering. I’m still doing the interview, but I’ve also gone on to doing other work in my head.
  • No, I’m good. – No matter how much you feel like you know about the position you’re interviewing for, remember to ask some questions.  Have at least three ready. If not, then once again, it tells me that you’re not really going after something you’re passionate about. It’s just a j.o.b.
  • I can do that – Never tell me that you can do the job that I have available. Show me how excited you are about the position and that you would be so lucky to have it. It’s crazy how many people I’ve interviewed say, “Yeah, I can do that.”  No you can’t–at least not for me. I want someone who wants the job.

These are just four of the many things you shouldn’t do on a job interview. But if there’s one thing I know about my commenters, you’re about to get more incredible advice.

Question: What other things should someone not do in a job interview?

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  • stevenstanleys

    I want people that want to make money and that want great retirement and benefits .In return I get someone who is a happy team player and will stay for the long term.I love great compensation and benefits because it creates great moral and its great businesses and the company and the team Members do very well.Team Members are a ASSET not a expense or a liability.The day corporate america figures this out this country will start competing again.Government and Corporate America are like two thieves robbing the store at the sametime.We have to empower people and get some individualism back in this country.We have lost our way with political correctness..

  • stevenstanleys

    Corporate America has the hiring down to a science.A man or a woman with all the right answers the PERFECT candidate.When I hire I stay clear of the PERFECT candidates because they have all the answers and NO RESULTS.Actions speak louder than words I look at their track record and I evaluate their potential.I want people that are team players and I want people who are real.The Perfect canidate is a figment of corporate Americas imagination.Hiring managers and recruiters have to feel needed and have to justify their jobs.The hiring process should be thorough but simple.PRE JUDGING canidates with gotcha questions and a one size fits all approach is artificial and closed minded.Never Judge a book by its cover.The political correctness with corporate america is shallow and cold.Keep it real and be up front and you cannot go wrong.

  • http://www.christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Going through these comments and I learned a lot. 
    Thank you everyone for your insight. 
     
    K, bye

  • Doug Bilderback

    I am new to this blog, so pardon my late posting to this thread.  One thing I am noticing is an instance from some about an interviewee must wear a suit and tie to an interview.  What an interviewee should wear is something appropriate for the culture of the organization they are interviewing for.  Many west coast tech companies (I am in Redmond WA) expressly do not want people who are in suits and ties.  Microsoft is famous for failing people on the first interview for wearing a tie due to “failure to understand and respect our company culture.”  Other tech companies are the same out here. 
    I am not making an opinion statement on one dress code or another, but that can be a key factor in a company’s culture and an interviewee should be mindful of the culture of the organization they are looking to be a part of.  Make it part of your exploration of the company before you apply.  

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @Doug Bilderback I agree. In fact, a smart candidate would research the company and k iw that ahead of time.

  • LouiseThaxton

    When someone comes in late for the first interview!  Wow – what am impression.
    But my presonal pet peeve is when someone comes in asking about the benefits FIRST – even though I know benefits are important, I agree with you – it makes me wonder if they are really wanting to be part of a long-term team – or just looking for a little bigger check.  
    When the interviewee seems more concerned with the culture than the pay – I am thinking – they are a fit.  

  • christophermust

    Thank you Chris. I appreciated reading this.
     
    K, bye

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com/ Loren Pinilis

    Hmm…I’ll have to come armed with questions next time. I kinda assumed that that was a turn-off. But maybe I’m wrong.

  • rlawrencejr

    I read this post yesterday, and I read all of the threaded comments today…absolutely great stuff!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

    As I interview people, one thing I look among the candidates is their honesty. But, sadly, man try to be over-smart. They try to portray themlves as ‘know it all Jack’.

  • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

    I loved this post and the comments.(Taking notes to pass along to our team.) I read it early in the morning, and have been thinking about it for a bit.Here’s one of my pet peeves, and I don’t think I noticed it in the comments. (Sorry if I missed it and I’m repeating something someone else said.) 
     
    My pet peeve: Interviewee leads the interview, or attempts to. While it is vital to ‘sell yourself’ and let the interviewer know that you are confident and capable – that DOES NOT mean that you take over by leading the deal with questions upon questions. You are being interviewed. You are not the interviewer. 
     
    Answer the interviewer’s questions completely, but never try to take the wheel. The message I get from this: I don’t respect you as my leader. I will try and run your show. The two times I went ahead with a person who did this to me in the interview, were the two times they tried to run the show after the hire. They were quickly fired.  
     
    Interviewee’s should ask questions as they are invited to. And man, I sure do like it when they do! Especially when they demonstrate that they’ve been trying to learn about our company. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @Aaron Nelson HAHA…I’m with you Aaron. I want to see that you are somewhat aggressive, but taking control tells me….you’ll take control. And since it’s still just the interview process, you’re not ready to control anything I have. 

      • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

         @ChrisLoCurto It’s a really cool balancing act, isn’t it? I’ve been thinking a lot about the recruitment podcast from Entreleadership – how important it is for the interviewers to ask good questions and then listen….and how important it is for the interviewee to know how to take the floor, work it, but not run away with it. 

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

    On the other side of the desk, professionalism is so crucial from the interviewer.  I had one interview where the VP interviewing me was a little too casual for Casual Friday, kept chipping off her purple nail polish and biting her fingernails and showed up 20 minutes late.  Beyond that, she expressed her concern about me working on her team because I was “used to having all the bells and whistles” and she couldn’t provide that and she finished the interview asking me if I would be willing to take a 25% paycut to come and work for her. All this while having her arms folded across her chest for 90 minutes… Hmmm not the right position for me!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @lilykreitinger Ok, the fingernails thing tells you up front you don’t want to work for that person. 

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @lilykreitinger I remember reading some information from you on your blog about recruiting. Wow about this story. I like how you also demonstrate that interviewers are also being interviewed by the prospect. In this case, you.  

    • RichardHaralson

       @lilykreitinger Dan Miller hit on this idea in his 48 Days book – he talks about when an employer asks about your salary requirements or history to state you would prefer to keep the focus on making sure you are match for the company AND the company is a match for you. At that point you can move into discussing and negotiating benefits. This also sends the message you are interviewing the company.

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

        @RichardHaralson @lilykreitinger I haven’t read the 48 Days book, but at an interview I did tell the person interviewing me that I wanted to make sure it was a good fit. I knew they were interviewing me, but I was also checking them out. They really liked that I pointed that out. They offered me a better position than I was applying for. Needless to say, God called me elsewhere. But it was a good experience :)

  • MaryBeth

    I thought of another piece of advice.  Send a follow up thank you note- preferably through mail – not email.  The people who did, didn’t always get the job, but that gesture ALWAYS made a good impression on me.  And yes, a handwritten note really IS that much more memorable, simply because it says to me that you are willing to put a little more thought and effort into getting this position than the average person.  Most people don’t bother to follow up with even a thank you email.
     
    Sending gifts, most of the time, comes across as trying too hard. (Or worse, depending on what you send, makes me think you’re a complete weird-o.) 
     

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @MaryBeth I think you should send me a gift right now. 

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

         @ChrisLoCurto  @MaryBeth It will arrive in September. =)

  • matthewware

    I realize this seems so obvious, but I’ve had multiple interviewees check their phones during an interview. One gentlemen pulled his phone out no less than 6 times in a 45 minute first interview! Needless to say, these people were eliminated from further consideration. If you can’t pay attention and show respect during an interview, I have a good idea of what you’ll be like as a team member.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

      Some people seem immune to the obvious :)

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      I hate that!!!! What they heck are you doing paying attention to your phone?! If he checked his phone 6 times in 45 mins, what’s it going to look like in an 8 hour day?

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

      That bugs me. A LOT. I think I would be tempted to ask the guy: so, what’s your phone offering for pay these days? And the benefits? Perks? 
       
      Seriously! Like Lily says below: People are immune to the obvious. Sheesh. 

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

      @matthewware Have you finished up an interview much earlier than expected because of stuff like that?

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    One of the candidates that I interviewed last month showed up 45 minutes early in a polo shirt and khakis–for a supervisor position.  No suit?  Seriously?
    Then he had the front desk call me to remind me that he was out there waiting.
     
    I was finished before we even started.
     
    The icing on the cake?   Not one question about the position.   I asked him more than once if he was sure he had nothing he wanted to ask and he reminded me that he was a current supervisor in a competing hospital and knew all that the position entailed.
     
    Wow.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @skottydog HAHAHA…hey!!….I’m here!!!!

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @skottydog Sounds like a “winner” to me… Good grief!
       

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

       @skottydog Was the interview on a Friday? Maybe he thought it was casual day.  =)

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

         @JoelFortner LOL!
         

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @skottydog Wow. That is amazing – but in a bad way. The guy has me interested if he shows up early, but I really like one point made in these brilliant comments: dress above the position you are applying for. 
       
      A few weeks ago, we held interviews for a few teaching positions we had open. For the first time in 6 years, I had a young gentleman show up in his only suit. (You could tell.) He was perfect. Arrived early. Was engaged in the interview. Asked lots of great questions. But what stuck out to me, was his care with his suit. 
       
      How you dress DOES leave a strong impression. 

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

      @skottydog Yikes!

  • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

    You guys freakin’ rock! Ok, we’re starting an HR firm today!!

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

      @ChrisLoCurto Amen!

  • GregLeBre

    Don’t get too comfortable, you’re not hired yet. You should still have respect for the person you’re talking too. A few Mr, Mrs, Dr titles thrown in show respect whether you’re younger or older than the interviewer, unless they demand otherwise. Great ideas Chris, I’m keeping these as a little reminder for the interviewer…me.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @GregLeBre It’s true. If you treat me like I’m a peer in the hiring process, I’m going to feel like you don’t respect my position as your leader. When we get to know each other, you’ll find I’m there to support YOU. But don’t jump ahead. :-)

      • http://www.robertpalmercoaching.com/ robertpalmercoaching

        @ChrisLoCurto @GregLeBre

        The whole “respect my position/title comment seems way off to me. The hiring process sucks because of this whole attitude. You only seem interested in what YOU want. You must be hiring for low entry/low pay positions because talent doesn’t care about your title/position.

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @robertpalmercoaching  @ChrisLoCurto  @GregLeBre It’s not respect my title Robert, it’s have respect for the person who’s interviewing you. If you treat one of my team leaders with disrespect in the interview process, you can take your talent somewhere else. I don’t need your talent if that’s how you treat people. 

  • JoelBoggess

    Great nuggets of advice Chris. Thank you for sharing. 
     
    I think far too often, people try to fit into the mold of what is being offered, rather than expound upon their own features and qualities. This can set both the interviewer and the interviewee up for disappointment. 
     
    To present oneself with confidence and authority, there must be an intimate awareness of one’s skills, abilities and passions. 
     
    Trying to get the interviewer to believe you are someone you are not, is a lot like mistaking your bow for the stern of your ship. 
     
     

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @JoelBoggess So true. And I agree that so many times the interviewer doesn’t look for someone with greater skills than the position is asking for. I think that’s fear based. 

  • jenhoverstad

    1. Don’t provide more information than requested.  
     
    I interviewed a very nice woman for a legal assistant position in my firm.  At first, her answers were exactly what we wanted to hear; however, as the interview continued, she started turning her answers into tangent stories.  I learned more about her than I needed to know, but, thankfully, I learned that she was not a fit for our firm!
     
    2. Don’t apply  for a permanent, full-time position, if you intend to keep your part-time job or go back to school in the next couple of months.
     
    While conducting a recent interview, an interviewee revealed that she thoroughly enjoyed her relationship with another law firm and would try to find away to keep working with the other firm.  That doesn’t work when I need you here 40 hours a week and focused on OUR work…
     
    Another interviewee informed me of his plan to go back to school relatively soon after the hiring date for the position.  While I’m all for your education, I don’t want to feel like you’re using me to support your education when I need someone here that is committed to the job and wants to grow in the position.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @jenhoverstad Wow!!! How ridiculous do you have to be to apply for a long-term full-time position when you have no plans of being long-term or full-time?!?!

  • LaytonWelborn

    As an additional item to go along with the “I can do that” item, I’d have to add to never mention I don’t or won’t do that.  Can’t and won’t are two different things.  I’ve had candidates I’ve interviewed for positions such as a SENIOR database admin who tell me “I don’t/won’t write SQL.”  This is a lot different than someone who admits that they aren’t extremely proficient in SQL but are working on it or willing to learn it.   This attitude is even better if this is a junior-level person who gets excited about being mentored by others.  We have to maintain software/utilities written in several different languages, but have had programmers interview that insist that they will only code in one language and refuse to learn any other language!  This is a big show-stopper for me because they are not interested in doing what’s best for the organization as a whole and tends to be an indicator of their work-ethic from there on.  
      I would much rather take a candidate ( a have in several times in the past ) who knows very little, but has a drive and excitement for learning and shows that enthusiasm for the things we do ( and the corresponding technology ).  I can work on the lack of actual knowledge, but the bad attitude, I have no time for.
     

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @LaytonWelborn Aaaaaaamen Layton!!

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @LaytonWelborn Man do I agree with you here. The people who work with us often have to travel around the city. We are VERY upfront about that. As soon as I hear ‘I won’t travel to X spot’ or ‘I’m looking for work in my front or back yard…’ your name gets mentally crossed off my list. One of our company values is ‘Flexibility.’ If you’re not willing to move to where the work is, thanks…but no thanks. Have a great day!   

  • LaytonWelborn

    As an additional item to go along with the “I can do that” item, I’d have to add to never mention I don’t or won’t do that.  As a technical guy

  • http://about.me/jonedlin jjedlin

    How do you (the interviewer) ask the right questions to flush out these “warning signs”?

    • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jonathan Henry

       @jjedlin I would generally ask two types of questions: Past behavior questions ask for examples of past performance: “Tell me about a time when….” Situational questions ask how applicants would deal with something: “How would you deal with a situation where….” This tells you how a person will (or has) responded and behaved in the past.
       
      However, what you may be looking for is not actually a set of skills and abilities, but a person who has the capacity to LEARN. Skills and abilities allow you to ADAPT to an environment, but they do not always enable to you solve problems and think in an abstract manner. Bacteria can adapt to environments just like a skilled and able employee, and we all know bacteria is not intelligent. Learning requires intelligence. In order to find someone with the capacity to learn, you need to find somebody with intelligence. The only way to reliably discover intelligence is through objective cognitive ability measures, like the DiSC and other personality/intelligence type tests.
       
       

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

        @Jonathan Henry @jjedlin SOLID!!!

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

        ”Bacteria can adapt to environments just like a skilled and able employee…” Love it!

      • http://about.me/jonedlin jjedlin

         @Jonathan Henry Thanks!

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

        @Jonathan Henry @jjedlin Bacteria… :)

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

    Couple of stories about two of my many interview experiences.  The first was nearly 10 years when I was interviewing for my first PR job.  All was going really well until I they asked me to layout a newspaper page.  All of the page elements (headlines, stories, photos, captions, etc.) were there. I just had to design the page to demonstrate that skill.  It was a disaster. 
     
    The mouse was some type I’d never used before and it was left handed.  I’m right handed. And I didn’t know the software program to save my life.  My stress levels peaked!  A team member was there to help should I need it.  I turned to her countless times.  After about an hour of struggle, I’d made some headway and then the program crashed.  And of course I’d forgotten to save any of my work, even though I was reminded to do so early on.  It was a total disaster…..or so I thought. 
     
    After the horrid experience, I met with the director and deputy director again for our last chat.  During that time, I told them that although I struggled with the layout test, I am a quick learner, would learn the program and go on to contribute greatly.  I said all of this with confidence and strength.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I ended up getting that job and was told they were convinced I would learn it, and they also liked how I responded under pressure during the test even though it didn’t go well.  Apparently I wasn’t acting as freaked out as I felt. 
     
    The second story did not end so well.  About two years ago, I was applying for jobs in the DC area and was asked to interview with an agency.  In short, I was just looking for a j-o-b to get us to DC and it showed during this interview.  I went in completely ill-prepared.  I had hardly researched the organization.  I may have spent 5 minutes. 
     
    When asked about the organization’s mission, I fumbled around for what felt like a day until I was stopped. The interviewer then clarified the mission and asked me if I’d visited the website. While I had, that wasn’t what she was asking.  She was really asking me if I’d researched the organization at all. I’m pretty sure my face was the shade of an maraschino cherry.  I felt like an idiot. 
     
    Needless to say, I didn’t get that job, even though I was qualified.  But it was clear to them I was just looking for a j-o-b. 
     

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @JoelFortner I can SO relate to both!  Passion wins! And I’ve interviewed for j-o-bs too and they saw right through me.  Hey, don’t tell Chris, but after reading EntreLeadership and going through FPU I was so on fire for doing “work that matters” that  I interviewed for a position with The Lampo Group.  Didn’t even get past the phone screen :D
       

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

         @JoelFortner … and I think it’s great because it was not the right position for me.  A “no” or “not right now” is a great opportunity for both the candidate and the hiring organization. The candidates can hone their skills and the organization can wait for the right timing to bring them on board.
         

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @lilykreitinger  @JoelFortner I bet it was just not the right one for you. I bet you would rock it here. 

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

           
           Thanks Chris! I would love to ride in the right seat in that awesome bus!

  • tbric1

    The obvious one:  Dress one step above the job your applying for.  Had a candidate show up here once for a interview wearing a suit.  (for a manufacturing position.) 
    Also, clean out your car.  I always have someone check to see how filthy the inside of the car is.  If you can’t keep your car somewhat clean, how are you going to treat my tools & office space?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @tbric1 I’ve even heard interviewers take people to eat to see if they salt before tasting, and how they treat waiters/waitresses

      • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jonathan Henry

         @ChrisLoCurto  So you’re saying that by adding Hot Sauce to my Taco Bell, I’m decreasing my chances of getting a job, even if I’m rationally applying said Hot Sauce before tasting because I know that Taco Bell products contain up to 80% wood product?

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

          @Jonathan Henry Only if Saturn is in line with Jupiter.

      • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

         @ChrisLoCurto  @tbric1 I heard a story of a candidate that was “this close” to being hired, and had lunch with the CEO in the cafeteria.  He tucked a butter packet under his food before paying, and that cost him a six-figure position with the company. The CEO felt the dishonestly would manifest later on when he was an employee.  

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

           @skottydog  @ChrisLoCurto  @tbric1
           Wow!! The little things no one thinks about when they’re doing that. Good thing for the company to find out so early on!

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @skottydog  @tbric1 A BUTTER PACKET?!?!?! AHHHHH!!!!!!! DORK!!!!

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

          @ChrisLoCurto @tbric1 yeah…worst 20 cents that guy ever saved!

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @skottydog  @ChrisLoCurto  @tbric1 BAH!!!!!

        • Joe W

           @skottydog  @ChrisLoCurto  @tbric1 That is really dumb.  Sometimes the butter packets are cold and hard to spread so a person will place it under a warm plate to soften the butter.  I’m sure the CEO was probably about to ask the person what kind of tree they would be.  I would not want to work for that CEO.

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

          @Joe W @ChrisLoCurto @tbric1 I have to look into story, but I could swear it was in Entreleadership book. Chris, does this sound familiar to you? If Dave told it, I’m sure you’d remember.

      • tbric1

         @ChrisLoCurto  @tbric1 CEO of a major company I know, took a prospective VP to dinner at a fine restaurant.  Guy salted his food before tasting.  Didn’t get hired!  You have to be willing to try new things at least once!

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @tbric1 Absolutely

  • MariannaGibson

    Don’t high-five the interviewer. Yes, that has totally happened to people on my team in the past year.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @MariannaGibson HAHAHAHA…never would have thought of that one.

  • kimberlylitt

    Since my son has had many job interviews, every single time he walked out the door I told him two things. 1. Sell yourself….Americans tend to steer away from talking about their strengths. I have no problem talking about my strengths because in the same sentence I can tell you my weaknesses. It’s not bragging, it’s being confident in your abilities. 2. Employers don’t pay for mediocrity. They can get mediocrity from anyone off the street. If you don’t present yourself with Excellence, then they have no reason to hire you, no matter what your experience is.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @kimberlylitt Two POWERFUL pieces of advice. I DO want to know your strengths, and I will pass on mediocrity in a second. If you show weak, I’ll assume you’re weak. The converse is I you’re over the top wanting to run the company in two weeks, I’ll pass on you as well.

      Great stuff!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

    A job interview is a sales pitch. You have a great product named “You” and you’re selling it to the interviewer.  That puts you in the driver’s seat and eliminates a lot of the anxiety.  Having said that, here are some things that I’ve done that have been successful, after having bombed an interview or two:
     
    1. Research the company extensively.  Read news articles, annual reports, the works, not only the splash page of their website. You should know their mission, vision and values by heart and use examples of how you meet those with your skills and experience.
     
    2. Smile, show passion! If you don’t love what they do, don’t even agree to interview with them.
     
    3. Ask for the job! Close your sale! Say, “I am excited about this opportunity, I think it would be a great fit for me and I look forward to joining your team and working with you. I really want this job”  When are you expecting to make a decision? When would it be a good time for me to contact you next week?  Amazing how in the jitters of the interview we forget this critical part.
     
    I can confirm what we’ve discussed here before. Passion over performance and experience can sometimes seal the deal.  Here’s a story.  Six years ago I had posted my resume online.  A company calls me for an interview and I have no idea who they are or what they do.  Turns out they’re a leading company in the learning outsourcing business and the parent company has 85000 employees.  I get to the interview, there are five people in the panel, four across the table and one sitting next to me.  They grill me for 45 minutes, then ask me to draw a storyboard of a sample training course based on a one-page article.  They come back, grill me some more and are ready to dismiss me.  I failed miserably on the technical part because I did not know any of the software packages they used.  As I’m about to exit, I sealed the deal. I said, “I know my experience is limited in what you do, but I am willing and eager to learn.  I know you provide your clients with top-quality learning solutions and I want to be part of your team. You’re a winning organization and I look forward to working with you”.  Two days later, I had an offer.   The person who hired me said to his team  “She is so green that we won’t let her touch anything for six months.”  He later confessed to me, I misjudged you and I’m glad we got you on board. You passed with flying colors.  He also said, you were the only person out of 18 candidates that did research on our company.  That and your positive energy got you the job. Oh and the panel who interviewed me?  The curriculum manager for North America, three Team Leads and the HR generalist.  I had no idea who they were or I would’ve frozen right there. But they were the right people to pitch the sale.
     
    Sorry about the lengthy response, but I am truly passionate about this topic and helping people ace their job interviews.  I’ll shut up now :)

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @lilykreitinger FANTASTIC response! It proves how important using your head, time, and resources are.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      @lilykreitinger This is superb advice!  It’s amazing how small things like smiling can make an enormous difference. 

  • austincasselman

    welcome to “open book society”
    – you have a facebook
    – you have a twitter
    make those help you not show you are a keg stand master

    god gave you 2 ears and one mouth- let the person finish talking before you tell them how you are going to raise earnings by 20% Q2 

    stated before in the comments- please have passion for what you are interviewing for- companies are going to spend money and time to train you 

    (this happened to me)- don’t state in interview “this place was closest place to kids daycare- would be great to be this close incase they got sick” ANNNNNNNND FAIL

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @austincasselman BAH!!!!! NO WAY?!?!?! Try one door further away please…don’t pass Go, don’t get a free t-shirt.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      @austincasselman LOL! Yeah proximity to daycare is not a strong talking point. Gotta love when your teeth don’t stop certain words from coming out.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

         @JoelFortner Been there, done that. Don’t “think out loud”!
         

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @austincasselman Not to mention, you’re telling you’re potential employer that you plan on darting out on short notice or missing a day completely when the little rug-rat gets a head cold (which only happens about 3-5 times a month in those petri-dishes!)

  • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jonathan Henry

    I am not too HR savvy, but when I interviewed for positions I’d find myself analyzing the interview process and making assumptions regarding the employer by how well they conducted the interview. If the interviewer didn’t have a transparent goal in mind (were they trying to build a larger talent pool for selection, or weed out applicants) I generally checked out of the interview. In that sense, not only were the interviewers wasting their time and mine, but they were signaling a very poor organizational behavior that would indicate that the company as a whole doesn’t put too much thought into decisions.
     
    I’m guessing exchanging letters and digits like what happens so often in these comments is not acceptable in an interview either. Imagine: “I’m an INTP, 11-67-88-99 type, Ideation orientated, 39-Wonderlic’n guy — you think I’m a good fit?” I imagine the interview would go better if it were with a psychiatrist,  and not necessarily for a job interview.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @Jonathan Henry Love it!! Loooove it!!

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      @jonathan Please try that in an interview and report back!  Oh, and secretly record the interview.  Man that’s funny!

  • http://www.ginasmom.com/ ginasmom

    Especially for a technical interview, don’t claim to have degrees/diplomas you don’t have. Had a candidate once put down, they had graduated from a certain course, turns out they’d had just started it and had no idea what the course was about.
    One more don’t try to buddy-buddy me, or get too comfortable – this is serious business.

    • AUTiger89

       @ginasmom In addition to this, don’t put a lot of weight into certifications one someone’s resume.  Taking a test well doesn’t mean that you have certain skills.
       
      We once had a new team member who was taking (and passing) certification exams left and right, but he couldn’t code his way out of a paper bag.  Needless to say, he didn’t last long.

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

        @AUTiger89 @ginasmom Totally agree! We even have tests to challenge those certificates.

  • DevinDabney

    I work at a university. We often run across “helicopter” parents.  A co-worker told me that he once had a parent show up to the interview with a guy who was interviewing for a full-time position.  I wouldn’t even do this for a student worker job, much less a professional position!
     
    One more piece of advice:  Don’t talk about how you’ve heard how terrible things were in that department and how you would start off the job by firing most of your subordinates.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @DevinDabney Hahaha…great advice Devin! “I hear your place sucks right now.”

    • http://www.ginasmom.com/ ginasmom

       @DevinDabney
       It kills me when normal parents turn into “helicopter” or “lawnmower” parents and literary ruin their kids lives. Would have loved to see the look on the parents face, when you asked them what they were doing there.

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

        @ginasmom @DevinDabney I bet you get that all the time Jane.

        • http://www.ginasmom.com/ ginasmom

           @ChrisLoCurto  @ginasmom  @DevinDabney
           Its so tempting to wear a sign that says “Kids Check parents in at the gate and remember to pick them up on the way out” in a lot of situations.

  • MaryBeth

    Since I would preview so many of your applicants through their resume and/ or phone interview, I would like to point out the biggest flaws that I came across… and no these people wouldn’t make it to you.
    1. They didn’t use spell check.  Friends should also look over the resume because their, there and they’re are all correct words that have different meanings.  One spelling error isn’t the end of the world, but if your resume is full of them, you aren’t getting an interview. 
     
    2. Cover letters or answers to an application should NEVER be written in text format.  i luv that dont u?  UGH
     
    3.Don’t bring up your personal baggage in an application or cover letter.  Everyone has it, but I really don’t want that your ex-husband won’t pay child support so you need to find a better paying job.  First -you’re just looking for a j.o.b.  Second, wow.
     
    4. Know SOMETHING about the company.  I would often fill in the gaps on people’s knowledge so I’d ask what they already know about our company.  There were multiple times when people said something along the lines of “well, actually, nothing really.”  So how did  you learn about us?  “Oh – through a job search engine”  We have a WEBSITE – for the LOVE – do SOME research! 
     
    Okay – now I gotta stop cause it’s all coming flooding back and getting me worked up all over again.  But seriously, everything above, I saw it – multiple times. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @MaryBeth AHHHHH!!! I miss you!!! You’re right. These are all Great reasons people never made it past you!

    • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jonathan Henry

       @MaryBeth Did you ever have someone put “Time Person of the Year -2006” as an accomplishment in a resume?
       
      http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1570810,00.html

      • MaryBeth

         @Jonathan Henry
         LOL!  No.  I am pretty sure I would have remembered that.  I LOVE it though.  Honestly, if the person was clearly (and I mean CLEARLY) being funny, I’d be okay with that.  I liked to see a little personality.  (Should I emphasize “a little”?  I mean, it is still an interview after all…. not a show.)  :)

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @MaryBeth  @Jonathan Henry You would totally have brought that person in!!

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @MaryBeth It’s been said that a resume gets only gets scanned for about 30 seconds before moving onto the next one in the pile.  I have found this to be true when sifting through candidates, and two factors help me quickly move through the stack:
       
      1.  If your list of previous employment dates back to your paper route in junior high school, it’s too much to read.  Stick to the relevant positions. More than one page on your resume is a turn off, and feels like a homework assignment to read.
       
      2.  If you’ve had large gaps in your employment or moved from job to job for 3-6 months at a clip for decades at a time (excluding agency work), that’s a big red flag.

      • MaryBeth

         @skottydog
         
        True!
         
        You know what would make me want to pass over a resume sometimes?  (And let’s be honest, I would!)
         
        1. People who don’t know how to use concise bullet points. Sometimes I felt like I was starting to read a text book.  I never got too far into those before I moved on.  Chris wouldn’t have been happy if I had fallen asleep at my desk.  haha
         
        2. Wordiness to cover up a lack of experience. 

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

       @MaryBeth This was probably the most insightful comment ever on this blog.  Want to go out sometime?

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @JoelFortner  @MaryBeth Dang!! You asked her out a few hours ago and now she’s having your baby!! I might have a side business here. 

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

           @ChrisLoCurto  @MaryBeth I have to say, Chris, you’ve been writing some pretty hot stuff lately!

  • http://www.southmountainveggies.com/ tagsbrusco

    I am in the food business.  About a year ago, I added the question, ” Do you have a passion for food”  to our job advertisement.  This has now become my first sorting tool.  If you reply, and do not tell me about your passion for food, then you do not get an interview.  Not looking for someone how is just looking for a J.O.B.  

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @tagsbrusco Amen! And I think adding to the interview, “what’s your top three dishes and why?” would help as well. Can’t come up with three decent ones? C-ya.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @tagsbrusco Ohhhh I like that one! 

  • Irishfan2thend

    The key to giving a good interview is treat the person making the decision as if they were a customer!! If you do that well you will be in the top pick of the litter :)-GM kentlapp 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @Irishfan2thend @kentlapp Nice! I like that!!

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

    Great advice Chris! I appreciate your suggestion to have questions ready. I was never taught the importance of that and it makes total sense!
    I haven’t done a ton of interviews, but another “no no” I would imagine would be being too honest or transparent when the interviewer asks “how are you today?” No one really wants to hear about all your woes…a potential employer DEFINITELY doesn’t want to know all of the issues you’re going to bring to their workplace…

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @Skropp Actually, I do want to know that. So I don’t hire that person. :-)

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @ChrisLoCurto True. But you asked whey THEY shouldn’t say :)

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

          @Skropp Good point. :-)

  • dtwhite06

    I recently had someone show up at an interview that was sweating profusely. I initially thought he was just nervous and after a few minutes of conversation he commented on how bad he felt and was running a fever and had been vomiting. He didn’t want to miss the interview because he wanted us to know that no matter how sick he was, he’d be at work if we hired him. We didn’t hire him.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

      @dtwhite06 Haha, you gotta admire his determination, but there probably are acceptable reasons to cancel or reschedule an interview, eh?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @dtwhite06 BAH!!! Yeah, ummmmm, good decision making plays a part in hiring. :-)