Imagine this: A friend is picking you up for an outing, but shows up 20 minutes early. You’re not ready. Maybe you’re busy with something else. But your friend has arrived and you feel compelled to drop everything and rush to get ready. That’s how an interviewer feels if you show up 20 minutes early for an interview. Showing up way too early is just one of a number of pre-interview “ooops” that are easy to avoid.
Ooops: Showing up late, making a terrible first impression.
Avoid by: Checking the route and parking the day before, allowing plenty of time and waiting elsewhere if you are early.
Ooops: Arriving too early.
Avoid by: Arriving and announcing yourself no more than five minutes before the scheduled interview time. If you get there any earlier, wait in your car or a nearby coffee shop.
Ooops: Making your opening line “May I use the restroom?”
Avoid by: Using the restroom elsewhere before arriving. If you must use it at the company, be early enough to ask the receptionist to use it before being called for your interview.
Ooops: Showing up with food or drink in your hands.
Avoid by: Eating in advance and arriving with clean hands that are ready for a firm handshake.
Ooops: Rude behavior toward the receptionist, HR scheduler or anyone else in the company.
Avoid by: Showing extreme courtesy to everyone you encounter along the way. Your treatment of them may well be reported back to the hiring manager. Besides many of these people have thankless jobs so show them a little love.
Ooops: Sitting in the waiting area staring into space, looking bored or anxious.
Avoid by: Bringing something to read while you wait. Suggested reading:
- Company background and research you did before the interview. (You did research before the interview, right?)
- Affirmations. Have a list of positive statements about your value, what you bring to the job and your ability to communicate that value to those you meet today.
- Industry information such as an industry magazine. It’s a great ice-breaker to be reading a professional or trade publication when your interviewer arrives. It shows you are keeping up to date on the latest in the field.
Ooops: Turning off cell phone while meeting interviewer.
Avoid by: Turning off your phone before entering the building, showing your entire focus is on this job, interview and company.
Ooops: Multiple bags and items to juggle as you stand up, greet and walk.
Avoid by: Traveling light and professional. One bag or briefcase is best. Prepare so that whatever you are reading while waiting slips back in the bag easily.
Ooops: Spilled drink in waiting area or worse, during interview.
Avoid by: Declining a beverage, if offered. If you must sip, coffee, tea and water are acceptable choices. Do not peruse the entire beverage array or pick a drink that requires elaborate preparation.
Following these simple tips, you can avoid a faux pas and get to the actual interview prepared and confident, ready to shine.