You may have had the experience of returning from an IT interview glowing with the knowledge that you nailed it. Then, you wait weeks for someone to return your calls, only to find out that you missed the mark. It may be that you were simply beat out by a more qualified candidate. However, it could be that you made a mistake somewhere along the line that knocked you out of contention. Here are six big gaffes to avoid.
· Discussing pay too early Temp jobs aside, if you’re really not just out there for the money, asking about pay right away is going to make any other questions you ask sound conniving and insincere. Unless the subject comes up, don’t wade into the issue of money in the first interview. You can talk about it after you impress the employer enough for a second interview.
· Talking tech to non-techies Feel free to discuss what you know, but remember: If you’re talking to non-technical managers or human resources representatives, you’re not going to impress them with talk about life in the trenches. Answer questions about your work history briefly and keep the tech comments to a minimum until you know the history of the company and the people involved in the hiring process. If you have questions about the technology in use at the site, keep your questions specific and relevant to the position you’re applying for.
· Ranting about your philosophy Maybe you hate Bill Gates, Windows XP, and the whole Microsoft Office Suite—but keep it to yourself. Spouting off about your tech philosophy can ruin your chances at the position. Chances are, you’ll work with people who need your help with a product you don’t like, so you don’t want to blast the tools you will likely be using and supporting. If you’re asked your opinion about a product, be honest, but don’t preach or rant. The interviewer probably just wants to see how you respond to such questions.
· Climbing the advancement ladder in the interview If you’re joining the ranks of a company, the last thing the interviewer wants to hear is, "How fast can I get out of this job?" Don’t ask about opportunities for advancement until the second or third interview. If you’re joining a company just to advance into another position, silence is golden. Keep it to yourself unless the interviewer asks or unless it is somehow already known and planned that you’ll be on a rapid advancement path. Remember that what you say now can come back to haunt you later. You don’t want to brag to someone who might be under your wing after a promotion. And you never know what may happen if you get the job. Learn to accept and adapt, and above all, be happy you have a job.
· Allowing electronic interruptions Cell phone and pager etiquette might seem a trivial thing to those who are hooked up, but you can kiss any job opportunity goodbye if you interrupt an interview to take a telephone call, especially if the human resources representative has a low tolerance for personal digital devices. Only if you are exchanging information by invitation should you reveal the fact that you carry a PDA. If you wear it on a belt loop or somewhere that is exposed, lose it, along with any other electrical device hooks and loops, and store them in pocket, purse, or briefcase. If you can’t spare the time away from the rest of the world to do an interview, why are you applying for the job? If you think getting rid of electronic communications devices isn’t important, just ask any human resources rep who has had a person answer a cellular phone during a job interview. Then ask whether the person got the job.
· Neglecting to send a follow-up thank you Beyond thanking your interviewers for their time as you leave, it’s vital that you follow up in written form. If the competition for a position is tight, a thank-you note can mean a lot. If the manager is slow to hire, the arrival of your note can serve as a reminder about the candidate who’s awaiting the manager’s next move. Just after you’ve completed the interview, take note of anything specific you discussed and make a point of referencing it in your letter. Even a nice greeting card is better than nothing. It may seem like a small detail, but the experts will tell you that this tried-and-true tactic really makes an impact.