Three Things NOT To Do In An Interview

A few years ago, I went to an interview for a director’s position that I wanted and felt I qualified for.

I knew the interviewers. We had a good rapport in the workplace.

It was the first time I’d interviewed for this level of management and I was nervous.

I solicited the help of a consultant who we had been working with us for the past year and a half to aid my preparation.

He guided me to put together a nice presentation for the interview.

When the interview day arrived, I picked out my favorite suit, put my “lucky tie” that my son made me when he was in pre-school, and brought in my Toronto Maple Leafs coffee mug with water to keep my throat moist and hopefully loosen the mood with banter about my favorite team.

The interview started poorly right from the beginning. I was told the presentation I had prepared could not be handed out because they had to score me based on what was said inside the interview.

Nervousness level 1000. Not the start I was hoping for.

Regardless, the questions began and I soon settled into a groove.

Everything was going fairly smoothly until I answered a question that caused one of the most important interviewers to shake their head in disagreement.

I blew it…and I knew it.

When the news came out of the winning candidate, I setup a meeting with one of the interviewers to get feedback about my interview performance.

Here’s some of what was said:

1) ALWAYS dress professionally. Regardless of whether you know the interviewers or not, dress for success. I had a suit on, but the tie my son made me gave the interviewers an impression that I was soft and unprofessional.

2) Don’t bring anything into the interview that indicated an affiliation with a team or organization. The comment to me was “You’re a Leafs fan. What if I was a Canadiens fan? I may not have hired you just because of that.”

3) Understand the interview process of the organization you’re interviewing with PRIOR to preparing for it. By attempting to hand out the presentation, I ended up looking amateurish and unprepared. I should have known that I couldn’t hand out a presentation to the interview board before going in there.

There are more tips I learned from this one experience, but I’ll save those for another day.

Well….maybe one more bonus tip:

Remember how I noticed the interviewer shaking their head after one of my answers?

To this day I feel my answer was the correct one and actually proved to be true in the end…HOWEVER…it wasn’t the answer they were looking for at the time.

The tip? Have as much organizational awareness going into the interview as you can. Know the company’s strategy as best as you can so the answers you give can be tailored to fit their strategic direction.

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