What not to do at an interview


Eric Wale

Ask anyone what their most uncomfortable, high pressure, stressful life experience has been, and chances are that job interviews would be top of the list. It’s not surprising because preparing yourself mentally and physically for a job interview is not easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to do in life.

There are so many things to consider: Will I be able to answer all the questions? Will I say “like” too much? How do I show off my personality and prove I’m the best candidate for the role? What do I wear? Or perhaps, more importantly, what don’t I wear?

A great job can make all the difference in financial, personal and professional happiness. So, it’s no wonder then that so many candidates get a bout of nerves, sweats and anxiety before they even make it into the interview room. This can affect the candidate’s ability to answer questions properly and give off a positive impression. And if you’re stressing out too much, your preparation is also affected. To give you a bit of help and peace of mind, use this guide the next time you have that all important meeting, and make sure you ace your next interview.

Dressing Appropriately

The worst offender might not come as a surprise: thongs/flip-flops. The amount of people who think it’s appropriate to wear these to an interview is kind of scary. They are not suitable for a job interview, end of story.

Think of it this way. You have one chance to make an impression, so make it count. Allocate time the day before the interview to choose your outfit and wash/press it if necessary. That way you’re not stressing out in the morning blindly throwing everything out of your wardrobe desperately trying to find something suitable. And keep in mind where you’re applying to, as different work environments have different dress codes.

Don’t wear any kind of workout gear or yoga pants, as well as anything that appears tattered or has holes in it (unless you’re going for a job in a gym or as Kanye West’s personal assistant).

If you’re not sure of what to wear, check the Instagram page of the company you’re going for the interview with. They will have photos of their employees, which will give you an idea of the dress code. If you need some fail-safe options, guys wear a suit and girls either a chic dress or smart pants, white blouse and a blazer.

Feeling sick?

Firstly, if you know you have an interview coming up, take your vitamins and minerals. Take care of yourself and make sure you’re the best you can be physically. But sometimes falling sick is inevitable. If this happens, don’t push yourself to go to the interview. As much as you want to make a great first impression, it’s not worth jeopardizing the quality of the interview if you are not feeling 100%.

Wouldn’t you rather feel confident that you’re on top of your game and giving it your all for your potential dream job? Don’t risk your health and potentially the health of those interviewing you. Although it’s not ideal to reschedule an interview, this is one of the few exceptions. Your health and the health of others is always the top priority.

The Importance of Body Language

When you’re sitting across the table from a hiring manager who holds your career in their decision-making hands, it’s easy for many candidates to let their body language get the best of them. For example, slouching can show a lack of confidence while things like shrugging or crossing your arms can unintentionally have you come across as combative. Neither trait is going to score you bonus points when it comes to interviewing success. recommends candidates stick to the following five rules to ensure positive body language:

  1. Firm handshakes: Shake your interviewers’ hands before and after the interview. Keep it firm but not bone-crushing and make confident eye contact to appear cool, calm and confident.
  2. Confident Posture: A slouching posture can show a lack of confidence – which is not something you want to portray. Show off your inner strength by rolling those shoulders back and keeping your head up high.
  3. Stop Fidgeting: Interviewers don’t like sitting across the table from candidates who are constantly tapping their foot or drumming their fingers. It’s distracting and can again give off the impression of low confidence, but also a lack of interest.
  4. Eye-Contact: A big part of a positive social interaction that interviewers will appreciate is eye contact. This applies in the interview room just as much as it does at the dinner table! If you’re not great at eye contact, practise during the lead up to the interview.
  5. Reciprocate the Signs: It’s equally important to have your own positive body language and to notice the body language of your interviewer. By doing so, you can correct missteps, mis-statements, or clarify any confusion that arises.

Smell Nice!

As well as looking good and being sociable and confident, the scent of the candidate is another thing interviewer’s take note of. Bad smells can occur if:

  • You smoke a cigarette within 30 mins (ish) of arriving at the interview. And no, perfume or cologne will never fully mask the fact you just smoked 5 cigarettes to curb a panic attack.
  • You eat a fry up or go to the chipper for lunch before the interview. No one wants to smell oil or grease.
  • You douse yourself in a full bottle of perfume or cologne (very bad move).

Sometimes, you’re better off to not sprinkle yourself with any scent whatsoever. Again, this can depend on the type of job you’re going for, so again, do your research into the environment and culture of the workplace you want to join.

With all these tips in mind, you should have no excuse not to smash your next interview. The golden rule above all, is to smile and remember your manners. By being polite and friendly, you will automatically gain the attention of your interviewer and give off a positive impression.

If you have any questions or concerns about what not to do at an interview, feel free to drop us a line or email us. Remember, no question is a silly one!

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