So I’ve been working in the Recruiting industry for the past 10 years and over the years, I have heard some interesting stories about how candidates fared in their job interview. Here are some real-life examples; feedback directly from Hiring Managers about why the candidate did NOT get the job:

She showed up late for the interview and then told me we gave her bad directions.

He showed up in jeans and a dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves. When I asked why he was dressed so casually, he said, “It’s casual day at my work today. I didn’t want to raise suspicions.”

She was nice to me, but rude to our Receptionist.

When I asked why he was interested in this job, he responded with, “Can you remind me what position this is for? I’ve applied to a lot of jobs lately.”

She brought nothing with her except her keys and a cell phone.

We offered him a drink of water at the interview. When he left the building, he threw the cup onto the ground in the parking lot.

She failed our internal test.

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As a Recruiter, there’s only so much I can do to prep my candidates for the job interview. Some people take my advice seriously, while others don’t. The choice is obviously yours, but my advice is to always prepare for a job interview. Employers want people who care about details and come prepared to situations. Typically, these people make the best employees.

So here’s my Top 10 list for you…the down and dirty do’s and don’ts for your job interview:

  1. Plan to show up 10 minutes early to the job interview. When you get the address, look it up on Google Maps, MapQuest, etc. Plan how you’re going to get there. Will you be taking transit? Will you be driving? Is there parking nearby? Really understand your route the night before so that you’re not in a panic the day of the interview. If you are more than 10 minutes early, do NOT head to the interview!! I’m serious!! Some people think it’s great to be super early but trust me, Interviewers get annoyed when people show up extremely early for appointments. They see it as a disrespect to their time and that you cannot follow instructions. If you happen to be more than 10 minutes early, hang out at a local coffee shop, or in your car. Do some last minute prep, or relax. Then 10 minutes before your interview time, let the Receptionist know you have arrived. Lastly, IF you are going to be late, call ahead and let them know you’re on your way. And never EVER tell them it was someone else’s fault that you’re late. Take ownership and apologize.
  1. DRESS PROFESSIONALLY. Now, occasionally, Hiring Managers don’t like people showing up in a suit. Literally, I have seen this happen twice in the past 10 years. So unless you are told something like this by the Recruiter, always dress to impress. I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees outside or if it’s casual day at your job. Put your interview clothes in the car and change on the way, or take a half-day off work if you have to.
Portrait of happy office worker looking at camera

Dress professional, be polite, be prepared

  1. Be polite to EVERYONE you encounter that day. I recently heard a story about a guy who had a road-rage situation with another guy on his way to his job interview. When he got to the interview, the “other guy” was the Interviewer. Yikes. Many companies value their employees so if a job prospect is rude to any of their team members, it is a huge strike against them. Be kind. This world is a small place and you just never know who you may offend.
  1. Be prepared to answer these questions: Why do you want to join our company and why are you interested in this position? Always be prepared. Do your homework on the company and think of reasons why you want to work there. Are they a leader in their industry? Did they recently roll out a new, innovative product? Are they known for high-quality service? Whatever the reason, be ready to point out some great things about them. When answering why you are interested in this position, never respond with, “I need a job.” This is not specific to the position you are interviewing for, and they just may tell you that McDonald’s is always hiring. Give some reasons why you are a strong fit for the position you are applying for, and why you enjoy doing that kind of work.
  1. Always bring 3 copies of your resume, along with a notebook and pen. Sometimes, other Interviewers are brought into an interview at the last minute and they haven’t seen your resume. In a situation like that, you want to be prepared and have one available for them. As well, ask if you can take notes during the interview and jot things down. I recently heard a Hiring Manager complain about this. He said, “The guy didn’t take any notes at all. Nothing. I mean, he could have at least pretended something I said was important!”
  1. Respect the company, their people, and their property. Avoid doing silly things like littering or speaking badly about people. These things may cost you the job.
  1. Some companies have their own internal testing process. For example, there is a huge company in Toronto – I won’t name names – but they administer a test at every single job interview. It goes like this: The Interviewer sits down, puts a pen in the middle of the table, then casually says, “Don’t touch this pen.” They then proceed with the interview. Many times, the Interviewee will end up playing with the pen or writing with it. At the end, the Interviewer will tell them they did not get the job because they were specifically told not to touch the pen. As you can imagine, this sometimes turns into a heated debate or argument. However, the company stands firm in their test. They believe if you can’t follow rules in the job interview, you won’t follow rules on the job.

In addition to the information above, I suggest doing the following three things at the end of every job interview:

  1. Ask questions. At the end of the interview, the Interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions. Like I mentioned earlier, do your research on the company and job position. Included in this, prepare some questions to ask about the company, the team, or the position. If there’s anything that hasn’t been discussed in the interview, ask at the end. This shows interest, and people like that.
  1. Close the Interview. Do you know what ABC stands for? Always Be Closing. At the end of the interview, ask the Interviewer if they feel you have the skills required for this position. Tell them you’re interested in the role and organization, and are eager to join the team. Show genuine interest in a non-pushy, non-arrogant way.

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  1. Send a thank-you note through e-mail. If you are working with a Recruiting Firm, send the note to your Recruiter. They will know if the Interviewer you met with will welcome a thank-you letter or not. If you are dealing directly with the company (not with a Recruiting Firm), send a thank-you note to the Interviewer. That being said, ensure your spelling and grammar are on point. Keep it simple – thank them for their time, tell them you’re very interested in the position and contributing to the company’s success, and hearing about next steps.

So that’s my list, folks! I hope this information has been helpful – good luck at your next job interview!

About The Author

Jeanne Bakker
IT Recruitment Professional

A seasoned professional, Jeanne may as well be called a "Recruitment Allstar". With over 10 years of experience in the recruitment industry, Jeanne has held Senior and Management roles with prominent organizations. Here is what she has to say: "Recruitment is part science and part art. Your technical experience = the science. Your attitude and personality = the art. My job is to find the candidates with the best combination to fill my requirements. Whether it be through head-hunting, poring through countless applications, acting on a referral, or using social media."

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