Interview Pitfalls

What NOT to do on an interview? Most of these sound like common sense, but my co-workers and I were discussing things to avoid during interviews.

Badmouthing your last/current supervisor or library
We have all had jobs we dislike. But we want to see you at your best. Who wants to work with a complaining co-worker?

Discussing other interviews you’ve recently been on
If you’ve scored some interviews, then great! However, we want you to be focused on this interview.

Checking your phone/email during an interview
Please turn it off and put it away. If there’s an emergency (my wife/partner is 9 months pregnant!), tell us beforehand. We will understand.

Clockwatching
Related to the the above. Stop checking your watch, or the time on your phone.

Inability to follow instructions
For example, If asked to give a sample library instruction session to first-year students, DO NOT tell us how you would do it. We actually want you to do it as if we were students!

Not answering the the questions
We asked a question. We want an answer. An honest answer. Stop “spinning” – this isn’t a PR/media job.

More specifically: Inability to answer the “why you want to work here” question
If it’s a technical services job and you say you love reference, then something’s wrong!

Overly Talkative
Yes, we want you to be excited for the interview…and to answer our questions. But be careful: avoid being long-winded. We’d like to get a word in, too, to ask you some follow-up questions.

Being too desperate
Do not cross the boundary into uncomfortableness. “I really, really want this job.” “This is my only hope.”

Ignoring staff members, students, community representatives, etc…
We have you meet with several groups of people during an interview. Be friendly! Be courteous! Ask them questions! These people are your potential co-workers, students, or community members you might be dealing with.

Dress/Appearance
Your mileage may vary on this one, but, in general, it’s better to err on the side of dressing conservatively. At the interview you can get a feel for how your potential co-workers dress.

Not Asking Questions
Yes, we’re interviewing you, but we also want you to ask us questions. We want to know why you’re interested in us and whether you are prepared.

Being Overly Confident
Yes, we want you to be enthusiastic, but there’s also a limit. There’s going to be a lot to learn in ANY new job and that’s OK.

Social Media
Some hiring managers may get a bit freaked out if you start following them on social media. Not always…but keep in mind, some will.

Also: if you have a public social media accounts, it’s probably not a good idea to tweet your interview day.

Not Doing the Homework
Have you not looked at our website, our mission statement, long-term plans, and have you read up on our services and resources? Please do! We often look favorably on candidates who weave this into their interview.

Inappropriate Language/Humor
Do we curse?…of course. But NOT in an interview. Don’t do it. We love a sense of humor. But be careful: sometimes dry humor or sarcasm does not translate well.

You smell!
Avoid heavy perfumes/colognes. Skip the cigarettes. No “coffee breath.”

Money/Salary
It shouldn’t be consider gauche to ask about money. However, not all hiring managers have adapted that point of view. Some may be put off if it’s the first question you ask. However you SHOULD have access to salary information in order for you to decide if the interview process is worth your time. You’re not going to get a consensus answer on when the “right” time to ask is. If no salary info is provided by the time an interview has been extended, I have often emailed the person I’ve been in contact with and the range has usually been given to me.

Punctuality
Don’t arrive way too early. However, arriving late is even worse.

First Impressions
The basics: firm handshake, smile, good eye contact, posture, etc… Don’t be a robot! I’ll admit this is hard. I’m an introvert and this doesn’t always come naturally to me. I have keep reminding myself to do this on interviews days.