First interviews are a lot like first dates. Making a good impression is paramount if you want to get to round two in either process. In Pongo Resume's 'Dave's Amazing First Impression' video from the 'Don't Be Dave' series, Dave Hetherington makes all the classic first interview mistakes. The video is hilarious and it may seem over the top, but job seekers make similar blunders on interviews every day.
Here are eight classic first interview mistakes:
1. Being too much of a generalist.
In an effort to impress the hiring manager, some candidates try to prove that they can do anything and everything.
Hint for Dave: Employers want to hire people with a strong professional brand in a specific job function or industry. They don't want to hire people like Dave who claim to be "freelance specialists."
2. Sharing irrelevant information.
All of the information the candidate shares with the hiring manager should be relevant to the position the person is applying for. Just because you have skills in areas outside of the job spec doesn't necessarily mean that the hiring manager is interested in hearing about then.
Hint for Dave: Your interest in Civil War reenactments and your passion for knitting clothes with your mother won't tip the scales in your favor during the interview.
3. Being too candid about weaknesses or spinning weaknesses into strengths.
Employers ask about weaknesses to see how you plan to overcome them and to discover how much your weaknesses may impact your ability to do the job. Offering an answer that suggests your weakness is actually a strength (i.e. I am a perfectionist or I work too hard) is not credible. Discuss a weakness that is authentic but is not necessarily damaging to your candidacy or describe a weakness that you are working on improving.
Hint for Dave: You obviously have a lot of weaknesses. Try not to expose them all in the first five minutes.
4. Talking about money before there is an offer on the table.
It is generally best to defer a conversation about compensation until an employment offer has been made. Get the employer to fall in love with you first. Once the hiring manager feels they have to have you, negotiating for what you want will be much smoother.
Hint for Dave: Hiring managers don't care about what you need financially or how broke you are. Your financial stability is irrelevant to their company's needs, so don't even go there.
5. Wearing the wrong clothes.
Generally it is best for men to wear a suit to an interview and for women to wear a professional dress, pant or skirt suit. Even if the office environment is business casual you will never go wrong with a suit. If you are applying for a blue-collar job where a suit might be inappropriate, dress one level up, perhaps in khakis and a collared shirt.
Hint for Dave: Lose the jeans and find the pants that match the suit jacket you are wearing.
6. Showing no interest in the company.
During the interview process it is important to engage with the person interviewing you. A great way to accomplish this is to ask questions about the company. Doing so makes the hiring manager feel more confident that you are serious about their company and interested enough to do some research on them.
Hint for Dave: Ask a few questions about the company, their goals, their challenges, etc. Show that you are interested in what's important to them.
7. Making demands before you have the job.
Before there is an offer on the table, all conversations should focus on the employer and how you can help them solve their business problems. There should be no discussion at this point in the process about what's in it for you. Save that conversation for the negotiation when you have more leverage.
Hint for Dave: Bringing up what you want or need too early in the hiring process makes the employer feel that you are not interested in them and are only looking out for yourself.
8. Begging for the job.
It's important to show your interest and enthusiasm for the job, but it's equally important to maintain your composure and not push so hard for the job that you appear desperate.
Hint for Dave: You will probably never hear from the company again.