Interview Errors

We’ve been performing a slew of interviews lately for technical positions, and have encountered at least half of all candidates who are not prepared for the interview and make errors which tend to stick out more than their selling points. After reviewing an article on (of whom we review resumes through) we noticed they had a list of 10 tech interview errors, which are the same problems we’re having. As either an interviewer or interviewee, keep an eye out for them:

  1. Appearance: Relaxed as today’s silicon valley companies are, many people are still remembering to dress up for the interview, put on a suit and tie, but they don’t notice the details. Such as, the have unpressed shirts (perhaps thrown in the dryer before the interview) or worse yet, wrinkled! Your shoes should fit the rest of the outfit – yes, we’ve seen sneakers attached to people in suits!
  2. Arrogance: We’ve interviewing you because of your resume, you’ve already bragged – now I need to know how well you can work with the existing team and company culture – if it’s “all about you” then you can be “all you” somewhere else.
  3. Overemphasizing Skills: Again, we’ve seen your resume that you’ve been honest with – but how have you applied your knowledge – what wisdom have you gained. Any certification or textbook means little without real world experience to apply that knowledge. Yes, we want MCSE and CCNP, but what can you really do with it?
  4. Not Communicating: Interview questions are rarely “close ended” – so a simple yes or no will not do. If we ask if you know a skill set, expand upon it with application, experience or a scenario.
  5. Unprepared: You should be selecting us as much as we’re selecting you – if you don’t care who you work for, then we won’t care to hire you. Visit our website, understand our industry, or competitors and products – and most of all, know why you want to work for us, specifically.
  6. Lack of Interest: Again, interviews are a two way conversation and process. You should be looking for a match as well, not just enduring the interview process. Be excited about each 2nd, 3rd, 4th interview. Express to me that you’re longing for the group interview, company tour, or ask probing questions. When we’re asking you questions, don’t look for the quickest route out of the scenario – ask questions back.
  7. Too Eager for Perks: Only at the end, when you know you’ve landed the job with us, should you begin asking about perks. If you’re not a fit for us, or worse yet, if we’re not a fit for you, does it really matter if we’re going to pay relocation expenses, 401(k) matches, etc? If you’re interviewing and you already have a job, you know that perks have little to do with sticking at a company – they’re simply icing on a good cake. If you like the company, then perks are great. Save these towards the end.
  8. Too Casual: Let the interviewer set the tone, and then, always step it up just a small notch. Sit upright in your chair, until they relax. If they don’t, then avoid slouching, etc. We want to see you on the edge of your seat!
  9. Too Negative: The negative person can be a black hole for any company – if you come across as negative, we cannot afford to hire you. Don’t talk about negative stuff going on with your family or current position. I want to know how you positively dealt with disagreement in the workplace, not how your coworker is a jerk.
  10. Failure to Close: Don’t let an interview die, it should close with a bang – just like the finale for fireworks or a musical theater number – something for you to remembered for. Also, end it with finality, instead of a best-man’s wedding toast that seems to never, ever end. Ask what the next steps are, express excitement about the next interview, receiving an offer letter or simply working for the company! Be brief, but let me know that you’re interested, and then get out, don’t linger around like a stray cat.

Finally, a few other things we’ve noticed:

  1. Bring your credentials – if you’re certified, be sure you have your cards, certificate, etc.
  2. Respect time – understand the time-window for the interview, do your part to keep within the time-frame – if it’s an hour (which you should always expect unless informed otherwise), and you’re coming to the end of an hour, be ready to close (#10 above) at any moment.

Good luck.