1. Be late
Leave EARLY. Check train schedules, bus routes, traffic, etc. Set TWO alarms. BE EARLY. Something will happen. It inevitably does. So if your interview is scheduled to start at 9, be prepared to arrive at 8. Use the time to prepare, relax, or have a cup of coffee. But whatever you do, do not be late. You can not undo that first impression.
2. Name drop
Do your parents know the CEO? Did you get the interview because you are close friends with a manager? Do your children attend the same school as the boss? SO WHAT! The interviewer (s) do not want to know that. They do not care. But, once you tell them, they will care. They will care because the impression is not favorable. They will care because you sound arrogant.
3. Dress inappropriately
This, unfortunately, requires some discussion. Because some people BELIEVE what they wear IS appropriate. But it is not. I have seen a lot – too much. So let's cover some of the basics. Iron. Do not wear a short skirt. Tuck in your shirt. Shave. Go easy on the makeup – no harsh eyeliner. Do not wear LOUD clothes or overbearing jewelry. In short, be conservative. Remember, what you wear creates a lasting impression. Do not let your appearance detract from what you have to say. It is hard to know what someone else will think about your appearance, so be conservative to play it safe.
4. Come empty handed
Bring extra resumes, notepads, pens, business cards, etc. The interview (s) may take unexpected turns. Someone may walk in and join the conversation unexpectedly. A few extra people may join you for lunch. Showing you are prepared gives the impression you can handle whatever the job throws at you. You want to show that you are calm, cool and collected. Plus flexible and motivated.
5. Ask questions about the company that is public information
You want to show that you have done your homework. Research the company thoroughly PRIOR to the interview. Read the website. Read any press releases. If it is a public company, read their filings and know their stock price. I have heard, on numerous occasions, interviewers ask the interviewee if he / she knew the stock price. Show them you want this job. You should be doing this research anyway in order to tailor your answers to their business strategy.
6. Act arrogant – like the job is in the bag
You want to create a favorable impression. You also want to show what you will be like to work with and how you will act with colleagues and / or clients and customers. No one wants to work with someone who is arrogant. Of course, it is slightly difficult for arrogant people to actually KNOW they are arrogant. It requires a good deal of self-awareness and openness to constructive feedback. Therefore, it is easier to talk about what not to do – do not make jokes, do not put your feet up on the table or even assuming where you will be sitting. Watch and observe. Be polite. Use the good manners your parents taught you. Do not talk about the company like you already work there (yes, you may have done a case study but that information is dated and static). Do not ask questions where it looks like you assume the answer (eg, when can I start?).
7. Act nervous
This is not the opposite of acting arrogant. Acting nervous is sweating, perspiring, having sweaty palms or a weak handshake. Nervousness shows when you struggle to answer the questions completely and comprehensively. Nervousness shows when you do not smile or walk too quickly. We all have nerves. We can quell our nerves by practicing prior to the interview. Practice your answers. Practice your questions. Go prepared. Being prepared nixes the nerves.
8. Have ZERO questions prepared for the interviewer
Believe it or not, I have actually interviewed many interviews where, afterwards, the interviewee did not have one single question for me. Perhaps I provided enough context that I answered some of the questions that had prepared, but our discussions should have elicited additional questions. Make sure you have enough questions prepared so you are not caught empty-handed. If you do not have any questions, it does not seem like you searched the company or job thoroughly. You SHOULD have questions. You SHOULD be chasing to determine whether a particular role / company is a good fit. The questions need to be intelligent and thoughtful. PREPARE.
9. Ask about career promotion – or how long it will take to get to the next level
The company is hiring for a particular job. They interviewers want to know that you are interested in THAT job. They want to confirm you are ready to jump in, be part of the team and excel. They do NOT want to think that you are a part-timer, trying to get to the next level so fast that you will not be committed to this job. There are ways to find out about career development without asking this question. You can ask about training and development, who you will be working with, how the work is striated, who you will be reporting to, etc. Through the course of these discussions, you will gain valuable insights into how you may progress with this company.
10. Forget to thank the interviewer
Yes, we should all send a "thank you" email or note following our interview. But I am talking about the actual END of the interview. Taking the time to thank the interview for his / her time and insights shows thoughtfulness, gratitude (aka not arrogance) and is a professional way to close the conversation. It gives a glimpse into your professional demeanor should you be hired. Plus, people LIKED to be thanked. It is a bonus.