Once you’ve intrigued hiring managers with your resume and been invited for an interview, it’s your one chance to make a positive impression and land the job. Interviewers want to avoid making the wrong decision, so they understandably may be warily examining how you act to determine if you exhibit any behaviors that could be indicative of a lack of professionalism. Don’t scare off your potential employer – avoid these interview red flags:
Not Researching the Employer
How can you claim you’d be such a great fit, if you don’t even seem to know much about the company? Always do some research ahead of time, such as reviewing the company website, social media channels, or press releases, to have a sense of their values and recent happenings.
Not Respecting the Interviewer’s Time
Being punctual is a keystone habit for professionalism. Showing up late to the interview is seen as a red flag because it demonstrates a lack of conscientiousness, but being too early comes across as being out of touch with professional norms. Make it clear that you respect the interviewer’s time by being punctual and arriving with a short buffer time (such as 10 minutes) before your scheduled interview.
Looking Sloppy or Underdressed
Your appearance is the first opportunity your interviewer has to develop an impression of you. Not being dressed appropriately or looking professional will likely negatively impact your interviewer’s perception of you, even if you’re highly qualified. Ensure you are well-groomed and your interview attire aligns with the company dress code and is clean and pressed.
If the majority of your questions are regarding what’s in it for you (i.e., asking first about vacation time rather than about the job duties or workplace environment) or your responses to questions are based on how much you would enjoy the job (as opposed to the value you’d contribute to the company), you may come across as self-absorbed and not a team player. Consider the employer’s perspective first and foremost, not your own preferences.
Speaking Negatively About Previous Employers
No matter how toxic an environment you were in or how terribly you may have been treated, speaking negatively about previous employers only serves to make your interviewer suspicious of you and your temperament and interpersonal skills. Avoid looking bitter by always staying neutral and sticking to the facts only when discussing your previous employers.
Playing It Too Cool
In an attempt to prevent coming across desperate (a major red flag that most candidates know to avoid), you may overcorrect and end up playing it too cool. This can backfire by making you seem indifferent or uninterested in the position. As long as you’re not begging or saying you’d do anything to get the job, don’t be afraid to be authentically enthusiastic about aspects that appeal to you. Hiring managers want to hire candidates who seem passionate, since they’ll likely be more committed long-term.
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