There are certain taboos to avoid sharing in the first interview, which—when discussed—could severely hurt your chances.
1. Never ask, “What does your company do?” This is the kiss of death. An interviewer feels that—at the very least—you could have spent a reasonable amount of time researching the company before the interview. They don’t feel that you need to be an expert on the firm, quote their financial statements and name all the people on the Board of Directors, but you should know a modicum of information about the products and services they offer. By asking this question, it reflects that you actually have no interest, are not intellectually curious and possibly very stupid.
2. Sometimes an interview is going very well and it transcends from a cold, stuffy interrogation into a cordial, friendly conversation. At times, the friendly conversation blossoms into a bonding session. Then, it’s easy to get carried away. Without realizing it, you let your guard down, drop some curse words, say something politically incorrect or make an off-colored joke. Don’t fall into the trap. You can be friendly, but avoid getting too cordial. The interviewer may view you as nice person to have dinner with, but not see you as a trusted and discrete employee.
3. Don’t start out by asking about the salary, bonus, title, vacation policy and benefits right out of the gate. Yes, you want to know about these important matters, but save it for later. You want the hiring manager and others at the company to like you first. If they don’t know you or understand how you could be of value, then why should they start talking about money? Prove your value first, then talk about compensation.
4. Your former boss may have been the devil and co-workers vapid, gossiping weasels, but don’t share that with the interviewers. If you talk poorly about your last company (even it’s true), you’ll be thought of as malcontent and a person who talks about others behind their backs, which also means you can’t be trusted. They’ll think that you will also talk bad about them. Furthermore, they may believe that the issues emanated from you and it was your fault, not your prior boss or colleagues.
5. When asked about your background or skills, never say, “It’s on my résumé.” If you think I am making this up, I’m not. At least once a week, in the course of interviewing someone, there will be an uncomfortable silence, the job seeker will get noticeably irritated and angrily assert that everything is on the résumé. This is a weird quirk in that the person feels that they are so wonderful that you should immediately know everything about them. This warped logic doesn’t have an end game. Should the interviewer hire them just because their résumé is solid? Sorry! No matter what level you are at, you have to elaborate on your background and sell yourself.
6. Never say, “Sorry, I’m late”or “I have a hard stop and must leave in half an hour.” I get that sometimes things happen, but it is rude to arrive late to an important interview. If you know that you are pressed for time, then you should have either told them that ahead of time or rescheduled the interview for a later date.
7. You may think speaking in corporate buzzwords, jargon and cliches makes you sound important and in-the-know, but the person listening is literally in pain. It is mind numbing to hear someone endlessly pontificate about how important they are. It’s worse when they add irritating corporate speak instead of sounding like an actual human being.
8. Don’t be rude to the receptionist and other assistants. They will report back to the hiring managers about your bad behavior. The managers will think that you are a phony when you are nice to them, but cruel to subordinates. Also, it would be an affront to the people you were rude to if management was to hire you.
9. Don’t ask about the job requirements. You should have read the job description in advance and be prepared to discuss it right out of the gate. If you have not thoroughly researched the company, don’t broadcast your laziness.
10. Avoid asking very personal and invasive questions. In the first interview, you want to showcase your skills and abilities. I know that it’s not fair, but if you start interrogating the interviewers, they will be put off. This could be done later on.
The first interview is like a first date. You want to put your best self out there and learn about the other person. You can find out much more about the date/hiring manager—and all of their issues and baggage—as time goes on.
Seen first at Forbes