How to Avoid Self-Destructing During Interviews

Companies ARE hiring IT professionals, but they’re being incredibly cautious and selective, to the point where a single interview mistake could keep you from getting an offer.

What are these mistakes that are so bad? Here’s a list that includes a few novel mistakes discussed on

  • Lying: It’s better to say you don’t know something than to pretend you do. And don’t lie about your experience or education on your resume or application. An employer will rescind their offer if they find out.
  • Being Slow: People who walk and talk slowly are probably slow on the job, so remember to match the interviewer’s pace and convey a sense of urgency when you answer their questions. If it doesn’t seem like a fair way to evaluate someone, deal with it. Some managers think this way.
  • No Follow Up: Not following-up after an interview can be fatal, says CIO’s Meridith Levinson. It conveys the idea that you’re not interested in the job.
  • Arguing: Don’t argue with the interviewer, even if they disagree with you on technical questions. Make sure your answers are technically correct by studying certification exams.
  • Being Negative: Don’t speak poorly about a former employer or boss. Your interviewer will think you’re a malcontent who can never be satisfied.
  • Being Disrespectful: Be respectful and avoid tech-speak when talking with recruiters or human resources managers. Remember that your attitude and behavior can keep you from getting the job.
  • Coming in Unprepared: Do your homework, customize your answers and prepare a list of relevant questions before the interview. Otherwise, the manager will think you’re not all that interested in the job — and will hire someone else.

Photo: Wblo via Flickr

23 Responses to “How to Avoid Self-Destructing During Interviews”

  1. This is an excellent summary of what we are seeing in the market currently. Employers still feel there are a lot of unemployed people available and are looking for the “perfect” fit! They are taking a long time to make hiring decisions and are testing IT candidates indepthly. One tip I would like to add to this article…. sharpen your technical skills and be able to communicate your knowledge accurately and concisely. Many hiring managers want you to not only be technically solid but also perform efficiently. “Trial and error” is very 2008! Today you must know the most efficient solution for immediate deployment.

  2. These is very true negative points. Took me over a year to find a IT job. I had the technical skills but not the people skills. These points discussed were a few things that prevented me from getting the jobs I wanted like “Coming in Unprepared”. It is very important to do research about a company when applying.

  3. Fred Bosick

    “Arguing: Don’t argue with the interviewer even, if they disagree with you on technical questions. Make sure your answers are technically correct by studying certification exams.”

    I agree with the first part. Arguing is a poor way to show that you can fit in with a new team. If the interviewer is obviously mistaken, think about whether the interviewer normally works on other things and can be excused for this lapse. If it’s his bread and butter, re-evaluate your desire to work with a bunch of morons. The 2nd part is wrong. I have seen plenty of mistakes on certification training materials and exams. Instead, be correct by studying the product or technology itself.

  4. Marcus Griffen

    People who have not been employed for over 6 months are not being hired, not matter how much experience they have. The EEOC is investigating this practice.

    • Back Against the Wall.

      I’m glad that an investigation is going on. I just hope that the 14.5 million people that are unemployed, stay consistent with pressing an investigation and don’t let it drop between the cracks. People are down on their last and frustrated, but we have to fight against companies that institute discriminating practices. No another note, I saw an add for a job opportunity yesterday and I had the qualifications, but what stop me in my tracks was that the ad was very clear that they are a face pace young team and looking for someone that fit those characteristics. So you see, companies are becoming too comfortable with their discriminating practice that they are now getting bold enough to put it on their ads. Agencies are also sharing that some of the companies they do business with only want young people, and no one that has been unemployed for more then 6 months. They know these requests are bad and try to help people over the hump to get them in anyway…nice but they need to report them to the labor board.

  5. Marcus Griffen

    Companies are not hiring people who have been out of work for over 6 months, no matter what there qualification are. I wish dice would do an indepth story about the average IT worker by job search. In fact better still Dice should select an IT worker, perhaps and unemployed poster to this site, and using the techniques/advise given by dice blogger see if this person can get a job. Follow that persons progress and report on it. Now, that would be a story and could actually people.

  6. Quote: “Be respectful and avoid tech-speak when talking with recruiters or H.R. managers.”

    Funny, that. Especially considering it’s (usually) the recruiters or H.R. Managers that are evaluating the technical background, based on a resume, of the hopeful candidates. If the first-line does not understand tech-speak, why is it culling resumes in search of the best candidates?

    • Great point, but HR is tasked to narrow down the stack of resumes to a half dozen the hiring manager can review. HR of course does not understand the technology so they compare what is on your resume or what you say in the initial phone interview with their list of requirements. If they can’t match everything on their list you are out. This is where the hiring manager has to be careful with what they put in the requirements as HR will read them quite literaly and the manager may well not end up with the best candidates.

      • Back Against the Wall.

        This is true, the goal of HR and recruiters, is to look for the best candidates for the position and how they discover your resume is through key word searches that matches what you have on your resume. However, after your initial interview with a recruiter or HR person, you can then use some of the jargon that is relevant when you have the interview with the hiring manager for the position. You should also keep in mind that it’s a chance that you may know much more then the hiring manager, so be conscious of how you sell yourself. I’ve learned the hard way and now know that you have to sometimes play down your knowledge but at the same time should that you are qualify for the good and would be the best candidate for the team.

  7. Being an IT manager, the points made in the article are quite relevant. You should know better than to speak jargon to the HR rep, and there is no contest on lying, disrespect and being negative or unprepared. I have been amazed at the degree of negativity towards one’s present employer. That does not work at all.

    Speaking slowly is not a drawback for me, if it seems like thoughtfulness. If it seems like the person cannot communicate, then that is a failing. You have a far better chance of getting a second interiew or job offer with solid preparation and a go-getter attitude that you can get across to the interviewer than possibly your fantastic technical skills.

    I will take someone with good attitude over technical skills. I can trains skills, I cannot train attitude.

    • @ Ward: You are exactly the kind of hiring manager that I am looking for. I would love to get in touch with you for further communication. Can you please share with me your email id. You can reach me at jpatel four nine eight at gmail dot com. Thank you very much.

    • Darrell Frazier

      Your comment is well-received. I find it refreshing to support the “attitude determines your altitude” concept. I am looking for a company that respects that point. I would be interested in applying for a position.

      Please contact me at call4dfrazier at yahoo dot com.

      • Sorry folks, I have just had the pleasure of getting a new VP and all open positions have been closed until he gets his arms around everything. Since he is big into lean, I do not expect to be hiring soon.

  8. In reference to some of the comments about the fact that companies aren’t hiring people who have been out of work for over 6 months – wouldn’t this encourage people to lie about their job status or trying to fudge dates to make it seem like that’s not the case? It’s tough out there, and people have to work in order to live. I wouldn’t be suprised to see more of that in the days to come.

    • Simple, you will be found out. If hired and found out later, you will be fired. Case closed. There is no upside to lying about your background. In some cases you may end up talking to the police.

      • Back Against the Wall.

        I think you are taking it too far when you said, “you may end up talking to the police”. You have to fudge a little to close gaps if you were out of work for a while. However, I’m sure people that are out of work, have been doing constructive things with their time. For example, some people get involve with their community and offer volunteering services of some type…caring for the elderly; cooking and cleaning for people part time; fixing computers or teaching some type of application to someone. Some people take classes to keep current with their skills. Anything constructive you do with your time, shows that you have not dropped the ball on your job search and career. My advice would be to add volunteering services


      Of course any constructive activity you are involved in during breaks in employment should be leveraged to the max. But, depending on the position, all of your background is subject to verification.

      If you are off by a month on employment history, no one will care. If you manufacture a company, the employment history and the education to fit the position, you will probably not get the job. Jail is usually restricted to those folks who get in the door, fill sensitive postions and are found out later. That is fraud,and also points to possibly improper due-diligence on the part of the employer. Perhaps that candidate should be in sales. 😉

  9. The part about avoiding tech-speak with HR and Recruiters… The key is being able to give them the Executive summary version in a non-intimidating way. The precedent key would be in knowing if they’re soliciting for the knowledge and you won’t know unless you politely ask if they’re interested in the technical info. Sometimes, it’s obvious that they are not interested. So, you don’t need to ask.

  10. I was very lucky to land my first job on my first interview. The secret to my success is lots of preparation; being very interested in the job, yet being laid back enough to not communicate neediness. I honestly thought I was not going to get the job on my first interview right out of college, so I went in with an attitude of advertising myself honestly, and finding out concrete ways to sharpen my skills. Also, expressing my entrepreneurial aspirations openly. I have aspirations to create a successful IT company in 5 years, and I speak about it confidently. Lastly, showing true skill not fueled by money, but genuine interest in the subject area. I was interviewing for a java web developer position, and I had already built and hosted 3 web applications individually. The tech-interviewers were really impressed with that.

    • Marcus Griffen

      Yes, you are lucky because when I click on your name and go to your website and select customer I find it does not work. I’m sure it worked when this company hired you.