Interviewing — Two don’ts during an interview

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In the last couple of posts, I’ve covered about ten things that you should do before an interview and during an interview.

Now for a couple of things to not do – check them out!

I’ve been interviewed for a position and I’ve been the interviewee for a position. I’ve personally experienced both of these mistakes – witnessing them as the person wanting to hire someone and once wanting to be hired.

The mistakes are simple and easy to do. Consequently, they should be easy to prevent:

  1. Never criticize your current or previous managers
  2. Never criticize your team or work in your current position

When I was interviewing for a position at a different company, I told one of my (thousands) of people interviewing me that one of the reasons I was interviewing was because my manager was over a thousand miles away and rarely talked with me about what I was working on for him. That one statement was construed as criticism of my manager (which, innocently, it was). That one statement ended up being the reason I wasn’t hired. I know this because I had someone on the inside of that company who told me that was the reason.

It was hardly a condemnation speech and it lasted less than 30-seconds in a four hour interview. It cost me a position. I probably would not even be here in Seattle-land today if I had gotten that position because the company was headquartered in Chicago-land.

Another time I was doing the interview and looking for someone to really help out in the company I was working for at the time. I was interviewing this person who was from a different company that I had previously worked for and I understood most of what was going on at the former company.

The person spent at least a half hour complaining about the previous company/department/management – but never told me why she would be of value for my work at my company. And I really wanted her to – but she didn’t get the job just because of the complaining.

The lesson is simple – never complain about your manager or your current work. There is no percentage in it. Even though one of the major motivations for looking for a new position is from poor managers and boring work.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    It’s really one thing to say the reason you are moving is a difference in approach with your manager or management team and another to pound on the manager/management team for a half hour.

    But many hiring managers treat it exactly the same, like there is some expectation of loyalty in spite of poor management and decision making driving you to move positions.

    So we have to phrase it as looking for “additional challenges” or “looking to expand my skills” when, in fact, it’s crappy management.

    It’s a tough lesson to learn and it looks like we both paid for it, Pete!

  • I broke rule #1 once for a job I had pretty much in the bag. They never looked me in the eye again during the interview and I never heard from them. Couldn’t agree with you more!

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