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DUH…but then again, maybe not

I read, ok, if I’m being honest with myself, quickly scan through all these tedious articles on my Internet home page (not saying which one, because my colleagues use other ones, and they’re all as bad as each other, the home pages, not my colleagues), giving career advice. They all seem to have numbers in the titles, to attract your attention: 5 things to say in interview, 10 things not to say in interview, 3 tips for the perfect cover letter, 5 things not to do in the office, 2 words that’ll get you the job, 4 things not to wear at work…t-e-d-i-o-u-s.

I came across one the other day: 35 ways that can make the difference between your getting a position or losing out to someone else. 35, for heavens’ sakes. And the list didn’t even include “not being related to the owner” so that would have made it 36.

Most are total common sense which is why I headed this blog “DUH”. But you might actually find a couple of hints quite useful, so I added the “but then again, perhaps not” – if any of them have you saying to yourself (try not to speak to yourself in public. People give you the strangestlooks), “Never thought of that. Good point”, then it was worth reading the blog.

Here’s my list of Stuff to Avoid.

1) Being late….better an hour early than 5 minutes late. If you are late, because the 6 and G trains were doing their usual, look, sound and be grovellingly apologetic.

2) Messy application form. You can’t be bothered writing neatly for them? What does that forebode for your work standards should you join them?

3) Not looking neat and tidy. It’s 100 degrees (Fahrenheit, but frankly, it might as well be Celsius) as I write this, so it’s impossible to look as fabby as you would in cooler weather. No, I’m talking chipped nail polish, dirty fingernails, messy hair, dirty shoes, stain on your tie.

4) Criticizing previous or current employer. Big no-no, that one. The interviewing company will be afraid you’ll criticize them one day. Of course, if you’re leaving because your boss is Satan’s handmaid, you’ll have to have some fancy linguistic footwork to explain yourself “I’ve learned a lot, and I’m glad I’ve done it, but the environment is not really one for the long haul. My two years here beats everyone’s else’s stint by 18 months”. However, overt criticism, no matter how appallingly true it might be (“My boss’s family have told me they’re arranging an intervention”) is not appropriate in an interview.

5) Being too casual in your speech. You have to sound natural, and if you’re worried about impressing with your vocabulary and diction, you’ll sound awfully stilted. The world is a lot more casual these days but potential employers will worry what you will be like on the job if you’re just too cazh in the interview. Face jewellery, major tattoos showing, swearing, using vulgar expressions (“My last job sucked”….aaaagh. Don’t bother googling, take my word for it, DON’T SAY IT). If you can’t show some respect for authority – and that’s rather what the interviewers are at this stage – they’ll be worried you’ll be Trouble on the job. So tone it down.

6) Apparent lack of interest/enthusiasm in the job and the interview process. You’re shy, you’ve never been talkative, you prefer computer games to having friends….all of that is fine, but try to nod appreciatively, give little smiles, look the interviewer in the eye, otherwise she/he will think you’re odd or bored or just generally unsuitable for employment.  

7) Don’t ask about advancement in the company at interview stage. You haven’t got the job yet, the job they’re desperately trying to fill, and already you’re asking about moving on? Learning more and more about the actual job – that’s more than acceptable. Wanting promotion already?…not so much

8) Have your cell phone turned off. If you forget and it rings, apologize. If it’s got an annoying ring that won’t stop, you’ll have to take it out to switch it off. Resist the temptation to have a quick look to see who was calling.

9) Indicating that you are shopping around for jobs. The job that the company wants filled is THAT one, and they want someone with commitment and enthusiasm for it, not someone who is looking for the best offer. Clearly, the company will know that your dance card may be quite full, but if they ask if you have anything else on the go, try to be subtle without telling big fibs. “I have a couple of other opportunities that I’m pursuing because I need to work, but this is the one that gets me excited”.     

10) Being vague in your answers, coming out with generalizations. Always give examples. I have mentioned this in some of the other blog articles and I mention it every time I prep a candidate for interview, so I won’t bang on about it here. Well, actually, maybe I will. “I have great organizational skills”….pause while the interviewer marvels at how organized you are…..nope, sorry, that’s not going to work. Everyone I have ever met says, “I have great organizational skills”.  Prove it to the interviewer with a couple of examples. No-one has ever said, “I’m a mess. It’s a wonder I can dress myself in the mornings”.

11)  Lack of common courtesy. Be nice to the receptionist. Thank the interviewer for his/her time at the end of the interview. Write a thank you note that relates to the specific interview and didn’t come verbatim out of a “Thank You Notes for Dummies” internet article.