Picking up with my top 5 from my previous list.
5 – Don’t Lie
It seems like it should be a given but don’t lie on your resume or to your interviewer. There are plenty of people that are paid to follow up on details and you will be caught out. Not only will you be fired if it finds out that you lied during your interview (or not hired at all). But you will most likely be blacklisted from applying with that company again in the future, which can deeply hurt your career advancement. There is also the problem with people who work in small circles. One mistake like this and you may find that every HR person in town has heard about what happened at XYZ company, because everyone in HR talks to each other. Don’t fall into this situation and keep everything on your resume truthful!
4 – You Give Up
When an interviewer gives you a problem to work through during your interview they are looking for a few key things. First, what is your thought process like when you are faced with a problem? The best thing you can do in this situation is start talking through the problem aloud, stating your logic and reasoning. You’re not really talking to the interviewer, just vocalizing your thoughts. This way the interviewer can hear about what assumptions you are making and possibly jump in with a hint or bit of clarifying information. We aren’t mind readers so if you’re just staring at the board, stuck and confused, we don’t know what went wrong if you aren’t talking. The #1 problem that then arises is that you give up on the problem. This is the second thing that your interviewer wants to know about – your character. What do you do when faced with adversity? Do you plunge ahead with a potentially wrong answer? Do you try different angles? Do you search for resources? Or do you do the one thing that will ensure they will pass on giving you an offer – you quit working. Even if you are stuck and confused, keep working on the problem from different angles until they stop you. Never quit.
3 – You Don’t Ask Questions
Every interview article you’ve ever read has probably told you that you need to ask questions during your interview and they all say it because it is true! Asking questions shows that you are interested in the position, want to know more about the company and are excited to work there. Always ask follow up questions during interviews if you want more information on something that the interviewer has discussed. It should not be a one-sided conversation. Remember that interviews are just as much about you finding a good employer you want to work for as it is about them finding a good fit for their company. Ask the questions that you need to ask to ensure that you can make an informed decision. Always have a question ready in your back pocket for the end of the interview when they ask: “Do you have any other questions?”. Don’t just grab your things and shake their hand. Show that you are interested by having something to talk about. I will note a caveat here – avoid bringing up salary, benefits, vacation days or other “sensitive” compensation items that you haven’t discussed yet. This will make the interviewer a little uncomfortable since they are not prepared to talk about this yet. Keep your questions focused on the day-to-day or responsibilities of the position, things you saw during your tour, technologies, or what the company is currently working on.
2 – You Don’t Apply What You’ve Learned During The Day
This item doesn’t apply to all companies but you could rephrase it to say “You Don’t Apply What You’ve Learned In Past Interviews” and it would work for everyone. Some companies do multi-part interviews over the course of a day. You may come in for the first round and if you make the cut, move on to the second round in the same afternoon. Doing well there may mean a deeper hands-on interview with an engineer a few hours later. These interviews are very stressful as you have to be on your game all day but they also give you an unparalleled look at the inside of the business. The key thing here is to remember to apply what you are learning as you move through the rounds. Each interviewer will provide you with feedback or areas for improvement. If these are things you can change right now, you should be showing that you are listening to feedback and trying to implement and learn from it. Likewise for companies that do a phone interview and then an in-person interview. If your phone interviewer has given you feedback that you can apply in the in-person interview, be sure you are showing that you are open to feedback and willing to improve.
1 – You Make Assumptions
Don’t assume that you understand what the interviewer is talking about. Clarify what the interviewer is really asking you so you can be sure that you are answering the question. I’ve seen interviewees go off on a tangent while working on a problem for 10 minutes only to find that they didn’t understand the problem they were trying to solve. My recommendation is, when you get a whiteboard question, the first thing you should do is write the question on the board. This way, the interviewer can immediately see if you didn’t heard them correctly. You can also ask them to verify if that is the question they have posed. Then start with clarifying questions about the problem so you understand what you are solving and are not making assumptions. Write down key information on the board as well. Once you feel you have a handle on it, start pseudo-coding the problem before you actually code it to work out any logic issues first.
Remember, interviews ultimately want to see you do your best so they can find out if you are the best candidate for the job. They are not there to intimidate you or make you nervous. Most will try to help you out if you are providing them with the means to do so. Relax, try to have fun and learn as much as you can from each interview. Sometimes it will take a few before you get the job but with each try, you will have more information from which to improve.