5 Things You Should Never Do Before a Job Interview

Searching for a new job can be grueling, so once you get a response to an inquiry, it’s understandable for you to be excited. It’s your time to shine. But don’t let your excitement get in the way of proper preparation. Now that you scored a job interview, it’s time to do the hard work and prepare.

Mike Smith, founder of Sales Coaching 1, said there’s one thing some job candidates don’t get right before the interview, and it could cost them the job. “I can’t even tell you how many interviewees have shown up late for the appointment they set! This is a major deal killer for most recruiters. If you’re not sure how long it takes to get there, do a dry run the same time of day as the interview so you can measure the time needed,” said Smith. Here are a few other things you should never do before a job interview.

1. Be overconfident

Will Ferrell in Anchorman

Will Ferrell in Anchorman | Source: Dreamworks

You were lucky enough to get the job interview, but that doesn’t mean you got the job. Even if you’re preparing for a follow-up interview, you can’t act like you’re the top pick until a signed offer letter is in your hands. Mark Jones, senior vice president at Alexander Mann Solutions, explained it like this:

Never assume you’ve landed the role, especially if there are more steps to go. You may be told that you’re a shoe-in, and that you just need to go to one last interview but that it’s really only a formality — that is never the case. Even if the recruiter completely means it — and they probably do — you can still mess it up, especially if you become too confident. For somebody else, who is a part of that final stage but not the earlier ones, this may be their first impression of you and so you still need to make it just as favorable as every other part of the process. 

2. Eat smelly food

Man eating sandwich

Man eating | Source: iStock

If you love spicy food or you just can’t go a couple of hours without smoking, you’re going to have to change some of your habits on the day of the interview. No matter how great you are, if you smell, it will most likely be a deal breaker for your interviewer. “Don’t smoke or eat odorous foods beforehand. Brush your teeth, use mouthwash or have a mint so that you’re fresh for the interview,” said Brandi Britton, district president of staffing for OfficeTeam.

3. Ignore the urge to use the bathroom

Bathroom toilet

Toilet | Source: iStock

Once you’re in the interviewing room, try your best to stay put. Having to leave a few minutes in because nature is calling may create an unnecessary distraction and cause your interviewer to lose his or her train of thought. And if you decide to ignore the urge and sit tight, you’ll be distracted throughout the interview because all you’ll be able to think about is relieving yourself.

Anastasia Button, author of #NewJobNewLife: The Millennial’s Take-Charge Plan for Success, said candidates should use the bathroom beforehand. “It’s better to be safe than sorry. Go to the bathroom 15 minutes before your interview. Sometimes they take longer than you thought and you may get the job on the spot. You don’t want to think about anything else but making that connection with the department head or employer. It can be hard to be engaged when your bladder is screaming at you,” said Button.

4. Arrive too early

Man sitting in office cubicle

Man in cubicle | Source: iStock

Sure, you’re excited, but that doesn’t mean you need to show up an hour before the interview and chat with the receptionist. Jaclyn Westlake, founder of The Job Hop, said job candidates should demonstrate respect for everyone’s schedule by arriving at a reasonable time. “Few things make a receptionist or recruiter feel more uncomfortable than when a candidate shows up 20 minutes early. This puts the hiring team in an awkward position — they either need to scramble to meet with you sooner or leave you waiting for an extended period of time — not a great way to start things off. If you find yourself there well in advance of your scheduled interview time, try killing a few minutes at a nearby coffee shop instead. It’s best to walk in with just 5 or 10 minutes to spare,” said Westlake.

5. Not prepare questions

Man hitting himself on the head.

Forgetful man | Source: iStock

There are few things you can predict when it comes the job interview process, but one thing you can count on is that your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Always be prepared for this, because it will happen. Jordan Wan, founder and CEO of CloserIQ, said candidates who don’t come prepared with thoughtful questions will just blend in with everyone else interviewing for the job. “One of the most effective ways to stand out is preparing a few insightful questions for the interview. Go beyond shallow questions like, ‘Who are your competitors?’ These questions require no background research so they are less impressive than questions that demonstrate a deeper understanding of the product, industry, or role itself. Let your intellectual curiosity take over, but try to ground your questions with a desire to better understand the job opportunity,” said Wan.

Pierre Tremblay, director of human resources for Dupray, also said not coming prepared with questions shows a lack of initiative. “The worst mistake somebody could make is to not ask questions at the conclusion. Really? We just spent an hour asking you 40 or so questions. You have nothing on your mind? You’re not interested about your day-to-day duties? What about the company dynamic? What about the people you will work with? You have no questions for me about tools and technology that we use? People who don’t ask questions in an interview show me that they just want a job — not this job. They want to come to work for eight hours a day, get paid, and leave. I need to be shown that this person cares about the role and will eventually care for their work and the company. Even if you only have time for one question to be asked, it better be a thoughtful one!” said Tremblay.

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