Most candidates—even if they've never attended an interview before—understand that some behaviors are off limits and unwelcome in an interview setting. Common sense tells us that this isn't the best time and place to start eating a sandwich, clipping our toenails, using foul language, or telling questionable jokes. These are all no-brainers. But there are a few behaviors that hiring managers find surprisingly common, and any one of these can tank your chances of landing the job…or even end your interview prematurely. These seemingly innocent moves can win you a free pass right back to square one.
1. Giving One-Word Answers
Very few interviewers appreciate this. In fact, very few people in general enjoy being spoken to in this way. A conversation is a two way street, and when this art form is being practiced at its highest level, the two participants pass information, feelings, questions, and answers back and forth across the table in a steady, voluble, and equal flow. It's been noted that two people are more likely to become friends and more likely to fall in love when their conversational style involves mutual levels of disclosure, and the rule certainly applies to the interview process.
When someone shares with you, share back in equal measure. When they show interest in you, respect their interest. When someone asks you a question, smile, think carefully, and provide an articulate answer that contains the best that your heart and mind have to offer. When you're asked to talk about yourself, consider this an opportunity and make the most of it.
2. Looking at Your Phone
Never look at your phone during a job interview. For the duration of the entire session, your phone should neither be seen nor heard. Feel free to glance at it while you're sitting in the empty reception area before the meeting, but even then, be careful. Make sure you aren't in the presence of someone (possibly the receptionist) who might wish to engage with you. And as soon as your meeting begins and your interviewer greets you with a handshake, make the phone disappear.
Too often, younger candidates believe that their phones are a natural extension of their arms, or they believe that gazing at their phones will make them seem busy, important, and in demand. These things might be true, but which would you rather be: "busy" or employed?
3. Saying Anything That You Think Your Interviewer Wants to Hear
A few minutes into the session, most experienced interviewers can tell if they're dealing with a desperate yes-sayer. This is a candidate who will say yes to anything, even if the answer is completely untrue. For example: "Will you be able to work late every night if you take this job?" "Yes!" "Have you done this EXACT type of work before?" "Yes!" "Are you available on Tuesdays?" "Yes!" "Are you a strong leader/a confident public speaker/ interested in extensive travel?" "Yes, yes, and yes!"
If you can't work on Tuesdays, do yourself and your interviewer a favor. Say: "I can't work on Tuesdays." This may take courage, but in the long run, your employers will respect you far more if you answer their questions honestly.
For more on how to keep your interview strong, effective, and positive, explore the resources and tools on MyPerfectResume.