Job Interviewing: 8 Things to Do and 8 Things to Avoid

Photo (cc) by andrewrennie

Looking for work? Look on the bright side. You’re smarter than at least some of the competition.

An annual CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers highlighted some memorable job-interviewing moments from some candidates we can only assume didn’t get hired. Our favorites…

  • Candidate brought a “how to interview” book with him to the interview.
  • Candidate wore a Boy Scout uniform and never told interviewers why.
  • Candidate was arrested by federal authorities during the interview when the background check revealed the person had an outstanding warrant.
  • On the way to the interview, the candidate passed, cut-off, and flipped his middle finger at a driver who happened to be the interviewer.
  • Candidate told the interviewer she wasn’t sure if the job offered was worth “starting the car for.”

The survey also had hiring managers name what they considered the most damaging interview mistakes, which included ridiculous things like taking a call or texting during the interview (77 percent), seeming disinterested (75 percent), and bashing previous or even current employers (67 percent).

Since you’d never do anything that stupid, here are some practical tips from the CareerBuilder survey…

  1. Research. Before the interview, read the company’s press releases and do a search for recent mentions in the news. Learn what you can about how the company operates and what its goals are, so you sound informed and can ask relevant questions. If the company has a Facebook page, message some of its fans and ask them why they like it. (Just make sure they aren’t employees – you can probably check those on LinkedIn.)
  2. Admit your ignorance. If you hit on a topic your research missed and don’t know how to address it, be honest. Give the best answer you can, and tell the interviewer you’ll read up or talk to the right person about it.
  3. Stay upbeat. What you know may or may not come across, depending on the line of questioning. But your attitude always shows, so be positive (although not fake) during an interview, even if you doubt your odds of landing the job.
  4. Pay attention to detail. Make sure you know the interviewer’s name, and how to say it. (Apologize and ask for the pronunciation rather than guessing.) Pay attention to their body language and facial expressions (without staring) so you know when to say more, shut up, or switch gears.
  5. Smell normal. Obviously shower and wear clean clothes, but skip perfume or cologne. Don’t smoke or eat right before an interview, and make sure you’re done with gum or mints.
  6. Avoid interruptions. Hit the bathroom before you start (another reason to show up early) and turn off your cell phone. Don’t talk over the interviewer.
  7. Offer examples. Be prepared to explain how you would handle hypothetical situations – preferably with similar experiences rather than your own hypotheticals.
  8. Be memorable in a good way. Show up early. In fact, if there’s enough time and it’s not suspicious to do so, visit the business the day before so you feel comfortable finding your way. (You might also see other job candidates, so you can dress sharper than them without overdressing.) Offer interesting anecdotes, which you can practice beforehand if necessary. And if you’re going to bring a self-help book, make it an interesting one, like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zombies.

For more humorous takes on interviewing, check out Stupid Job Interviewing Advice and our story on last year’s survey: 18 Interview No-Nos.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

10 Common Expenses That Have Skyrocketed for Seniors
10 Common Expenses That Have Skyrocketed for Seniors

Retirees must stretch their dollars further and further these days — no thanks to these costs.

Drivers Give These 5 Car Insurers the Highest Marks
Drivers Give These 5 Car Insurers the Highest Marks

One company claimed the top ranking in several categories.

Secret Ways to Save on Netflix
Secret Ways to Save on Netflix

These little-known savings tactics can help whittle down what you pay for your streaming video subscription — every month.

7 Steps to Keep Your Car Looking Like New
7 Steps to Keep Your Car Looking Like New

Take a few steps to preserve the beauty of your car, and you stand to get a lot more money at trade-in time.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom
Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom

Largely asymptomatic seniors may experience a symptom not commonly associated with the coronavirus.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today
18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash
8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash

Sometimes, the humblest household items are worth the most money.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.