In an ideal job interview, a candidate’s technical skills and experience may shine through, but making an interview faux pas can quickly overshadow any positive moments.
Tiro Security CEO and co-founder Kris Rides, who’s been in the tech-recruitment industry for over 15 years, recently shared some pointers about things that will absolutely wreck your job interview every time. Here are the highlights:
Being Rude to the Front Desk
It’s not entirely uncommon for job candidates to put their best foot forward during an interview—only to show their true colors when interacting with everybody else. Rides makes a point of checking with the front desk staff to gauge their impressions of a candidate. “A lot of people think there’s just one decision maker in the interview process, but that’s rarely the case anymore,” he pointed out. In other words, treat everyone you interact with both in person (and on the phone) with courtesy.
Asking questions solely about vacation time and PTO probably won’t give a potential new boss the impression that you’re excited about the job. Even if you’re dying to know how many sick days and holidays you get, it’s usually best to refrain. Instead, ask questions about the company—but not the basic ones anyone can get by looking at the website. “It’s always best to Google the company before you meet them, instead of asking questions you should know the answer to before you show up for the interview,” Rides added.
Answering Questions When You Don’t Know the Answers
If your interviewer asks a challenging question, you have a few options—and guessing the answers isn’t best. “You almost always get called out because there are usually follow-up questions, and it becomes very obvious and really awkward,” Rides explained.
Instead, he recommends being honest about not knowing the answer, while explaining how you’d find it: “You can even double-check the answer with the interviewer and then start a discussion that might enable you to explain some of the other skills and experiences you’ve got.”
An interviewer may ask if you’ve used a tool that you’re wholly unfamiliar with. Instead of simply stating you haven’t used it, you can always explain similar tools you’ve used and how long it took you to pick them up.
Pretending your salary is much higher than it actually is may help you with negotiation—but if you’re asked for a W-2 and last month’s pay slip, lying in your interview could cost you the job. Best to be honest about your pay and pay expectations, rather than being deceptive.
The Awkward Hug
Weak handshakes (or overtly aggressive ones) don’t usually give off the best first impression, but recruiter horror stories kick it up a notch. “I’ve had interviewees who felt that they really gelled with their interviewer go in for a hug after the interview. Probably one of my favorites was an interviewer who put his hand up when he said hello, and the interviewee thought he was high fiving and gave him a high five,” Rides recalled. No matter how much rapport you think you’ve built, avoid anything other than a firm (but not crushing) handshake.