As creative division manager of a large financial company, I spent many hours of 30 years interviewing job seekers. That makes me some kind of authority, and I remember many occasions when I experienced what job applicants should not to do during interviews. Here are several absolute guarantees that the applicant will not get the job.
1. Be inappropriately dressed. If you’re applying for a job as oil changer for a motorcycle gang or drummer for a punk rock group, you can arrive clad in leather, with jewelry sticking out all over your skin and green hair. However, for every other occasion, dress conservatively. A woman should wear a modest dress or business suit, with short, neat hair and minimum of make-up.
A male applicant should be clean-shaven or with a neat mustache or beard, wear a suit or sports jacket and slacks. Forget about making a social or political statement, because the interview will fail and you’ll have plenty of time on the street to make whatever speeches you want.
2. Arrive too early or too late. If you show up too early, you make everyone nervous, and you’ve interrupted the normal routine or misunderstood the required time. If you arrive too late, you may as well turn around and go home. Forget the excuse that your car was stuck in traffic, your alarm failed to go off or your dog ate your resume. You won’t get the job, and if your lame excuses tick the interviewer off too much, you may not even get an interview.
3. You can guarantee a quick trip out the door if you use improper English. Your teen or rock slanguage, “like I said” and “like ya know”, “yeah, man” and “he don’t know nothin” will grate on the interviewer’s ears. All the fake high grades on your resume and false previous job experience won’t help if you can’t handle simple English in the interview.
Be articulate and don’t wander off the subject. Don’t volunteer extra ideas unless you’re asked specific questions. Then, answer quickly, grammatically and shut the heck up. When the interview is over, say a few polite words only and get going.
4. You can’t pass a simple on-the-spot test. My division had an average of a job opening per month for business editors, public relations and ad writers, with basic requirements of a bachelor’s degree in English, public relations or journalism. Additionally, sneaky me, I always required job applicants to sit down in my office and write a simple news release within 30 minutes.
In the early days it was on an electric typewriter. Of the average ten applicants for jobs, three couldn’t even do basic typing, two more were slow one-finger typists and three others couldn’t compose a one-sheet news release from scratch. That left two who were legitimate applicants for our writing jobs. Bottom line: if you’re applying for a job, be sure to be ready at any moment to prove that you’re qualified to do it.