Do's & Don'ts in a Job Interview

May 05, 2016

            Imagine that you are seated in the waiting room, five minutes away from your job interview as you wipe your sweaty hands on your jean-clad thighs. You had woken up bright and early to get ready, had arrived at the company in advanced to avoid being late, and was even able to converse with the other applicants to try to shake off the nerves.


            However, you watch as the preceding applicant, wearing business attire that starkly contrasts your jeans and untucked dress shirt, exits the room that you are about to enter; an extra copy of his resume in one hand while he shakes the interviewer's hand in thanks with the other.


            You are led into the room, empty-handed; and you quickly take a seat as you start to worry that you had not prepared enough for this interview. The interviewer, already giving you a scrutinizing look, then asks you, "So what do you know about this company?" And your mind draws a blank.


            What could you have done to avoid all these mistakes?


            There are many subliminal rules to behavior and etiquette, especially in the business industry. It's not easy to learn every single nuance to these rules, but it is good to be aware of the basics of what we should do before, during, and after a job interview. Get your notes ready 'cause we've created a list of the basics Do's and Don'ts in a job interview that will help you prepare for your next one.





-          Do find out where the location of your interview will take place, and find out how you will be getting there and how long it may take to get there in order to avoid being late to your interview.

-          Do your research on the company and the position that you applied for.

-          Do think about what kind of questions they will ask you during the interview.

-          Do practice for the interview, including facial expressions and hand gestures. However, don't memorize or over-rehearse your answers. Your answers may end up sounding robotic or monotonous to the interviewer.

-          Do prepare your outfit and necessary items to bring such as your bag and extra copies of your resume and/or portfolio the night before.

-          Do always listen attentively, even before your interview starts. Be sure to get the interviewer's name and the correct pronunciation upon meeting them.




-          Do exude confidence. First impressions are based on the outset of a person. However, don't be too overly confident which may be interpreted as arrogance.

-          Do use formality and greet the interviewer(s) by title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and last name upon meeting them. If you are unsure of the pronunciation of their last name, do ask the receptionist before going into the interview.

-          Do firmly shake hands with the interviewer(s) upon meeting them. Don't have a weak or limp handshake.

-          Do wait until you are offered a chair before taking a seat.

-          Do remember proper posture and body language. Sit upright and be alert at all times. Don't fidget, slouch or look around.

-          Do maintain good eye contact with your interviewer(s).

-          Do smile. It makes you looked more relaxed, comfortable and likeable.

-          If given a job application form, do fill it out neatly (preferably in block letters), completely, and accurately.

-          Do give examples of real-life experiences when explaining some of your answers, especially when expounding on certain skills and talents that you have.

-          Do ask for clarifications if you do not understand a question.

-          Don't use casual language such as swear words or slang. Also, don't use fillers ( i.e. "like", "uh", "um", "so", etc.) while answering.

-          Don't be nervous. Although it is not always easy, try to come to the venue early to get used to the environment or practice a few breathing techniques in the bathroom before your interview.

-          Don't touch your hair or face, tap your fingers, play with your pen, or adjust your clothing during the interview.

-          It is fine to gesticulate with your hands, but don't overdo it. Don't make too many big hand gestures, but don't  keep your arms crossed or keep your hands in your pockets either.

-          Don't act desperate for the job or use emotion by telling "pity stories" in order to get the job.

-          Don't make negative comments about yourself. Don't make apologies or talk about the skills that you lack or were not able to acquire.

-          Don't read from your application or resume. You should be familiar with your own background and past experiences to be able to talk about them without a guide.

-          Don't simply rely on your application or resume in order to get the job. Do learn how to sell yourself in an interview through your personality, attitude, experiences and skills.

-          Don't discuss controversial topics (e.g. political views, religious view, etc.) with your interviewer(s).

-          Don't say anything negative about former colleagues, supervisors, or employers.

-          Don't ever lie. Make sure all your answers are factual.

-          Don't answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Do explain your answers to let the interviewer know more about your personality, and emphasize your skills and talents if the opportunity arises.

-          If the interviewer asks an unexpected or difficult question, don't make side comments like, "Wow, that's a good question," or leave the question unanswered for an extended pause. Also, don't freeze up in panic. Do repeat the question or ask for the question to be repeated to give you more time to think of your answer. Also, small pauses are allowable. Do give yourself time to think when answering questions so that the interviewer also knows that you are really thinking and making sure that you understand the question.

-          Don't ever argue with an interviewer. If they may have misinterpreted your answer, kindly and calmly re-explain it to them a second time.

-          Don't answer calls or look at text messages during an interview. Do turn off (or put on silent mode) your cell phone.




-          Do ask intelligent questions about the job, company, or industry. You may ask questions that your research had not been able to answer. You may even ask what kind of applicant they are looking for, or feedback on your interview answers. Don't ever not ask any questions  - it shows a lack of awareness and interest in the job position.

-          Do finish the interview by telling the interviewer(s) that you want the job and asking about the next steps in the process.

-          Do try to get the business card(s) of your interviewer(s), or at least get the correct spelling of their first and last name(s).

-          Do evaluate the interviewer and the organization he/she represents. After your job interview, think about the way you were treated, the values of the organization, and if you see yourself working in that organization's environment.

-          Don't inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses, and other benefits until after you have received an offer from the company. The interviewer may ask about your salary expectations, but do try to delay talking about your salary until you have an offer.

-          When discussing salary (after receiving a job offer), don't sell yourself short. Do  know your market worth so that you may be able to negotiate on your salary.

-          Don't forget to shake hands with your interviewer(s) at the end of your interview.

-          Don't forget to take down notes immediately after the interview to avoid forgetting important information or details that they had relayed to you.

-          Don't forget to write a brief thank you letter to your interviewer(s) and make sure to send it within 24 hours.

-          Don't forget to follow up with the employer within a week to ten days to ask about the position.


           For more advice on what you should and shouldn't do in an interview, read our previous article 5 Ways to Best Ace Your Job Interview