Don’t Do This On An Interview

The increasingly casual work place sometimes creates confusion for job seekers. 

Over the past few weeks, I have had informational interviews with several individuals searching for jobs.  Two of them looked like they were going to the movies after stopping by my office.  Fortunately, I learned from one of them that he called someone in my office to determine our “dress code” and he dressed accordingly.  Although he gets points for thinking that he was dressing appropriately, his casualness also spread to other areas of the interview.  Throughout the conversation, I felt that his casual attire allowed him to do the same with his lack of preparation for an interview–even if it was simply informational.  The experience made me recall the following clever parody from the Positioning newsletter published by executive recruiting firm Heyman Associates

Your next job interview may be the most important of your life, with the potential to change the course of your career.  This column was originally slated to provide pointers for a successful interview experience.  However, in keeping with the celebrity “Don’t Vote” parody campaign on YouTube that was so successful in encouraging more than 300,000 new voters to register for the presidential election, we revamped it along the same lines.

In classic sarcastic style, keep these pointers in mind if you want to make an unforgettable impression at your next interview:

  1. Don’t be informed.  Sure, you could research the industry, noting the leading companies and any trends in the space, and learn as much as you can about your target company, its products and services, communications messages and leadership.  But this would be unreasonably time consuming and would distract from the time you have set aside for your MySpace page redesign.
  2. Don’t wear a suit.  The days of professional attire are long gone.  Show how fashion-forward you are by wearing the latest trends.  Be sure to pop a piece of gum in your mouth on the way in so your breath is fresh.
  3. Don’t arrive on time.  Arriving 10 minutes late will emphasize that you are in great demand, encouraging your potential employer to snap you up right away.
  4. Don’t be respectful.  We’re all just people, right? Get comfortable with your interviewer by sharing a few funny stories and off-color jokes.  Loud, raucous laughter puts everyone at ease.
  5. Don’t listen.  It’s much more important for you to share your views on every topic that your interviewer brings up.  If you stop talking and listen, you might appear to be desperate and overly interested in learning about your prospective company and the position you are considering.
  6. Don’t silence your cell phone.  After all, you are a very important person, with important calls coming in.  It’s obvious that your time is more valuable that your interviewer’s.  They can wait.
  7. Don’t focus on your strengths.  Everyone says the same things in interviews, about their ability to manage multiple responsibilities, work well with a team, be creative, write accurately and take on a leadership role.  Stand out from the crowd by providing details on the more obscure talents and interests you have, such as the upcoming gig schedule for your grunge band, how you started your cheese collection and your bid to break the world record for staplers stacked on your desk.
  8. Don’t send a thank-you note.  It reeks of desperation.  Sure, you could make your interview stand out among many by discussing key topics that only you discussed with your interviewer.  But you want to stand out from the pack, right?  Because you know that other people are being interviewed for the same position, you have to assume they will send a thank-you.  The way for you to set yourself apart from that crowd is to stay aloof and unattainable.  It’s always good to leave them wanting more – make your interviewer wonder if you’re already considering another position, which will encourage them to get that offer right over to you.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Do This On An Interview

  1. After reading your post I feel good that I’m doing everything right! However, I had a question for you. What type of questions would suggest asking in an informative interview, since there isn’t a specific position you are vying for? Thanks in advance.

  2. mk: I received a thank you note from a student applying for a university place following her interview. Need I add she was much younger than 35? Of course, the thank you note was transmitted by email, but it was a thank you note all the same.

  3. Danni: Be prepared to ask industry-specific questions. For instance, mention that you read a Wall Street Journal article that said the XYZ industry is poised for dramatic growth. Ask if he/she agrees and how the company positioning iteself in light of this prediction. Also, ask the interviewer to share his/her career path with you. A good interview is a balance of 2-way conversation so the interviewer will appreciate your asking questions.

  4. What more can I ask for than an insightful post sprinkled with humor and sarcasm? Thank you for sharing your key pointers and highlighting the importance of each point that much more with your use of sarcasm. Hilarious.

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