In his TED Talk, Jason Chen gives 3 ideas we agree with for more productive interviews all around. Together they boil down to focusing on what you can do, not what you have done! Having conducted dozens of interviews we've also witnessed our fair share of cringe-worthy moments with prospective hires. The things listed here are samples of those mistakes. A little awareness can help you avoid these traps.
By reading this I'm making the assumption that you're a human from earth and it shouldn't come as any surprise to you that (1) being on time to an interview is important and (2) being late is bad. What might come as a surprise is that being too early can also be bad. I once had a candidate show up for an interview 90 minutes early. "Was there a miscommunication?" I asked "No, I just wanted to be early" he said. Don't get me wrong, 10 minutes early is great, 15 at the most. It gives a good buffer for any lateness and shows whoever is interviewing you that you can follow directions and be dependable. But 90 minutes? That's like flying from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving and arriving at the airport on Halloween! If you're more than 15 minutes early wait in your car or go get coffee!
Dress code at an interview can be tricky. You want to impress but you also want to fit in. But I’ve had a candidate arrive at the interview in a 3 piece suit with a pocket watch chained to his vest. If he was dressing for the job he wanted then my initial guess would be that he was gunning to be the next mascot for Planters Peanuts. With a top hat and a monocle he'd virtually be a lock. In this situation he was wildly out of place. Ask the recruiter about dress code ahead of time or research a company's culture somewhere like Glassdoor.
You'd be surprised at the number of people who lie on their resume and how easily it is revealed. We had a candidate who claimed on her resume to type 80 wpm. During the interview we asked her to complete a simple typing test to measure speed and accuracy. She immediately objected to the value of the test. Then she became frustrated, closed the laptop, picked up her things and left the room announcing "I thought this was a serious job, I don't have time for this". The funny thing is we didn't really care what her speed was. What we couldn't deal with is someone who lies.
Jason Chen suggests that when looking for a position you should highlight your ability, not your experience. It's a really valuable tip and something I'll try to do when conducting interviews. Remember I already have your resume. I'm more interested in what you can do than what you've done. And keep it simple and don’t make obvious protocol mistakes. These things will make for better interview outcomes all around!
Check out Jason’s talk here: