People write to me all the time, seeking advice in securing their next position. Typical advice is to research the company, research the hiring manager, and above all, practice your interviewing skills. All of this, while important, comprises only 20% of the total challenge. In other words, your content is 20%, and your presentation is 80%. So, what are these ten things you should avoid? Here’s my list:
1. Dirty, torn, or chewed fingernails—who wants to shake hands with that?
2. Messy, unkempt, unevenly dyed hair—you are a premium product. You need to package yourself as such!
3. Casual dress—it’s much better to err on the side of caution, and dress more formally than your interviewer.
4.Showing up reeking of cigarettes—yes, cigarettes are legal, but most of us nonsmokers don’t want to spend 8 hours a day around someone who smells like last night’s party, and who spends 2 hours a day outside smoking.
5. Scuffed or worn out shoes—really?
6. Checking your phone during the interview—do you like it when you’re talking to someone who is obviously distracted?
7. Asking to be shown your work area—you don’t have the job yet, so don’t ask where your office will be.
8. Being late—I do realize that being late is sometimes unavoidable, but in the case of a job interview, it’s inexcusable.
9. Appearing anxious and needy—who wants to work with someone like that? Present yourself as a someone who is desirable – not a commodity.
10. Hubris—coming off arrogant or conceited. You want to show confidence, not hubris.
Of course, this list could go on and on, but these are my top ten pet peeves. The takeaway here? Present yourself as polished, professional, and approachable. Listen to what the interviewer says, but listen so that you understand, not just so that you can respond. Look professional. Dress the part. Make eye contact. Speak clearly. Having self-respect commands respect. Go get the job!