All of us hate going to job interviews, don't we? Well, maybe not everyone hates it, but the majority of applicants describe the job-interview process as a “horrible” experience. People get stressed and very nervous when they think about sitting in front of an interviewer and answering questions, even if they actually know the answers. All of us have been there at some point in our lives, and believe it or not, the hiring managers who are interviewing people like you today were once interviewees themselves—and they hated it too!
So, what’s so horrible about going to a job interview? It could be the fear of not feeling prepared enough. Perhaps it’s the anxiety of meeting a new person who is making a decision about your future career and possibly even future promotions. Maybe it’s the discomfort of not knowing exactly what to expect when you walk in the room. Or you could just not like being interviewed in general and feel that talking to someone who is possibly more experienced than you is not your cup of tea.
We asked Natalia Atif, a QA Lead with over ten years’ experience in Quality Assurance to share her experience on the interviews passing.
Natalia, what is wrong with interviews?
We all have our reasons for disliking interviews, but let me share a secret with you: your hiring manager may also not enjoy the process of making a decision all that much. They may not be very social or confident, either, and would have preferred someone else to hire a good, qualified person. However, this is an unavoidable part of a manager’s job. They must hire people and sometimes—unfortunately—fire them. Your hiring manager is a human, and they probably have their own insecurities to battle every day.
I was a hiring manager too. I had to make decisions that not everyone liked or expected from me at times. My role was to hire the right person, but you may be surprised to know that the “right” person was not always the smartest one in the room. In fact, hiring managers are not looking for the smartest people; they are looking for people with whom they feel comfortable working. Yes, you read that right! As a hiring manager, I looked for people I could easily integrate into my team. At this point, you may be wondering about candidates’ professional qualities—isn't that what’s actually important when hiring for a job? The answer is yes—and no.
Yes, skills are important. After all, that’s why we are hiring for a particular role. But we meet many people who possess fairly similar skills and knowledge. Some can have more experience than others, but at the end of the day, all of the candidates get screened before they come in for an interview. What that means is that the majority of these people are on the same level professionally. Not all of them will get hired, however, and this is due to a number of common mistakes that many of them make during the interviewing process.
So today I would like to discuss the main mistakes that even experienced applicants make when they start looking for a new job. Read carefully and try to avoid them in your own professional life. These are the most common mistakes, which means that the majority of people make them over and over again.
So, what should you avoid doing if you want to get hired?
1. Be late for an interview. Hiring managers are busy people. They usually squeeze interviews into their already tight schedule, and the last thing they want to experience is waiting for a candidate to show up. If someone is late for such an important event, the hiring manager will take that to mean this person may be late with their job tasks and will need constant guidance in terms of timing and deadlines. Trust me—no one wants to have extra workload on their shoulders. No manager wants to be a babysitter who must constantly supervise and guide the kids in their group. If you do happen to be late for your interview, then you’d better have a very good reason for it and call HR in advance. Let’s say, for example, you are stuck behind a traffic accident and there is no way you can make it on time. My advice is you should let the company know and give a new ETA based on your location. Be prepared to have the interview rescheduled, though, because the manager may not have any other available times to take your interview that day.
2. Bring food to your interview. This is a big no-no for the majority of hiring managers! Even if you are hungry and didn’t have time for lunch, don’t bring your chicken salad or burrito into a small interview room! The smell of food will distract even the most loyal and patient interviewer. Not to mention, they don’t want to see you eating in front of them. You can bring your coffee (although you will likely be offered some upon arrival) or a bottle of water. However, no food is allowed in the interview room, and this is a golden rule to remember.
3. Dress inappropriately for the interview. You might wonder what exactly is considered inappropriate, and the answer is it depends! “Inappropriate” can be quite different depending not only which job you are applying for, but also on the geographical location of your office. If we talk about the IT industry and compare New York to California, for example, we can get a good idea about the differences. Let’s say that you apply for a mid-level QA engineering job in California. In that case, you can show up looking casual and wearing comfortable clothes. Likely your hiring manager will look quite similar, and you won’t see many people wearing suits in the office. If we are talking about New York, however, your attire should be official and businesslike. That’s not to say you should wear a tuxedo, but you definitely should not wear ripped jeans and a t-shirt for the interview. So research the company’s dress code, or if you are not sure ask HR in advance.
4. Be “too smart.” If you constantly cut off the hiring manager or talk nonstop about yourself, trust me—you will not get hired. No manager wants to deal with an employee who is looking to step on toes. What I mean by that is that you should be respectful and understand that your hiring manager is looking for a team player and not a mentor. They are not looking to be taught about how to do things. They already know the job, which is why they are in a position to hire others.
5. Be indifferent. This mistake is the opposite of being overly smart; however, it is absolutely catastrophic for your interview outcome. No one likes indifference, and no one is looking to hire such an employee. When the candidate has no questions for the interviewer, that may imply that they are not interested in the job or the company in particular. This kind of person is seen as someone who just wants to collect a paycheck and won’t go the extra mile. Usually, candidates who act like they are not interested in what is going on in the interview room won’t get good feedback, even if they are a fit professionally.
6. Act like the boss. This often happens when someone is overqualified for a job. This person may start teaching others in the interview room, thinking that they will earn extra credit. However, acting like this usually results in the opposite outcome. When the interviewer observes such behavior, they assume that this employee will constantly be trying to instruct others if hired. And guess what? Their way of doing things may not be the best way for the company, or it could even destroy the current team dynamic. If someone is seen as not a team player, they won't get hired.
7. Lie in your resume. As hiring managers, we are allowed to ask candidates about their resumes. We can’t ask about skills that aren’t listed, however. So if we see something that interests us in your resume, you had better know what it is. The worst thing candidates can do is have no idea what their own resume says. It’s usually obvious within the first five minutes of the interview if someone has lied about their experience or education. It’s better to have a shorter resume than a massive one full of made-up information.
I hope this article helped you understand the top mistakes that the majority of candidates make. Try to remember them the next time you have an interview, and I wish you the best of luck during the process. Just remember that your personality is a deciding factor when it comes to a job offer. Demonstrate your ability to add value to the team and watch how fast you get hired!