Robert Half Technology, a technology staffing organization, offers this simple list of what you should and shouldn't do in a job interview. My comments are in brackets.
- Arrive on time.
- Greet the interviewer by name. [Not his or her first name though until you are issued the invitation.]
- Smile and shake hands firmly. [However, making a good impression is not dependent on how many knuckles you crush.]
- Look alert and interested at all times. [Turn off the cell phone and PDA. Somebody's going to post in the discussion and ask who'd be stupid enough to leave those on in an interview. I've been a witness to it; they're out there.]
- Speak firmly, clearly and loudly enough to be easily understood. [[A good suggestion but you just know someone reading it will go overboard, yelling and annunciating like a tourist in a foreign land.]
- Look the interviewer in the eye while speaking. [If you're shy this can be hard to do, but it does help.]
- Structure your comments in a positive manner. [If you're negative in a meeting in which you're supposed to impress someone, what does that tell the interviewer about how you'll be on the job?]
- Exhibit overbearing, overaggressive, or egotistical behavior. [You don't have to be brash or smug to come across as self-confident.]
- Show a lack of interest or enthusiasm about the position or company. [Why even show up if you're not interested?]
- Appear excessively nervous. [This is easier said than done if you are actually, well, nervous, as most of us are in interviews. Just try to take some deep breaths beforehand and prepare yourself for possible questions.]
- Overemphasize your compensation. [It was always a red flag to me as a manager when a job candidate asked what the salary was in the first 15 minutes.]
- Make excuses for unfavorable factors in your work history. [It's tempting, I know. But taking responsibility for yourself is the mature thing to do.]
- Disparage past employers, managers, projects or technologies. [This would tell me that you're going to do the same thing as an employee working for me.]
- Answer only "yes" or "no" to questions. [It's pretty awkward when you ask what you think is a probing question and get only a one-word answer in return. Don't rattle on and on but try to expound a little just to show the interviewer that the wheels up there are turning.]
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.