If you have received an invitation to an interview, thoughts like these will probably go through your head: How do I behave correctly? What should I prepare? What if I make a mistake and don’t get the job? Yes, job interviews scare many applicants. And so you will find a lot of advice on which no-gos, faux pas, or mistakes you should not make under any circumstances. Instead of stirring up fear, I would rather encourage you to go into conversations with your new employer with more self-confidence, openness, and curiosity. So, you can allow yourself these “faux pas” in the job interview:
You don’t care about the many rules of behavior and just behave normally
I have just rediscovered the rules of conduct for job interviews. What you have to wear as an applicant, who shakes hands with whom first to greet you, how the coffee is drunk, and you have to cross your legs. I have already written here and over there on XING about this behavior spasm that has long settled in the minds of many applicants.
Who actually says that you can’t behave yourself in the interview? Or would you get the idea of going to Deutsche Bank for a conversation with torn jeans? As an applicant, would you put on your flashiest party make-up or in a miniskirt? Would you greet your new boss with a ghetto fist and a “Hey dude, what’s up?”? Or would you ask for a gin and tonic if you were only offered one water? – Hardly.
The job interview is about getting both sides to really get to know each other. So go ahead and commit this “faux pas” and be the way you used to treat your old boss or colleagues. You can find out here why I don’t say that you should be authentic. And if you just don’t like coffee, you can refuse it with thanks and ask for some water.
You can not recite your self-presentation by heart
I often get inquiries from applicants who want to work with me on their self-presentation. When you are with me, tell me what you have worked out beforehand. It seems strange to me when the personable person, with whom I just talked normally, and we laughed together, suddenly turns into an emotionless and stiff applicant who dutifully recites his poem like a big school child.
So, go ahead and commit this “faux pas” and don’t learn the self-presentation by heart. As a preparation, it is better to only write down key points that are important to you for your brief introduction. Where did you grow up, what did you learn or study, what characterizes your professional experience, and what are you interested in? You might even succeed in turning it into a real conversation as a dialogue about your career and not giving a monologue about your past. Do you actually realize that nobody knows your life better than yourself?
You surprise your interlocutors with too honest answers
“What are your weaknesses?” – “Perfectionism, impatience and chocolate.” – Not funny! You too probably know the supposedly best answers to the trickiest questions from the application guides. Also nice: “Why would you like to work for us?” – “I’m looking for a new challenge and the position has piqued my great interest.” – Oh what! How should your counterpart find out something about you as an employee with your competencies and strengths and you as a person with his or her personality, if you are afraid of revealing too much and only answer with meaningless phrases that also only bore every HR manager?
So, be sure to commit this “faux pas” and say what is important to you, what distinguishes you professionally and personally, and what questions go through your head during the conversation. Of course, it is your decision how far down you let your pants down and what you want to reveal about yourself. But if you don’t give your counterpart any chance to get to know you, how can he or she judge whether you are a good fit for the boss or whether you will get along well with the existing team? Because who likes to buy a pig in a poke?
You reveal the secret of why you have to change employers
Are you also afraid of being asked why you have to or want to leave your old employer? Probably because you also learned that you shouldn’t talk badly about your ex-employer. Because it doesn’t go down well to refer to the old boss as a nut or the colleagues as a pain in the ass. Yes, it is. Because even your new employer can imagine in bright colors how you will possibly talk about him at some point.
Nevertheless, you can commit this “faux pas” as long as you don’t drag your old employer through the mud. If you haven’t seen any further development prospects, have become bored over time, after a few years you felt like taking on new topics or a completely different industry, or maybe you have been fired for operational reasons – what speaks against saying this? Even if your old boss was the strictest control freak, and you felt constricted, you can also express this positively with a view to the future: “Freedom in structuring my work is very important to me, I didn’t have enough that at my last employer.” You not only create clarity about your motivation to change but also about what you will need in the future, to be able to work well.
You ask questions to which the people you are speaking to have no answers
One of my clients once asked his future boss how he would describe his leadership style – and it was clearly overwhelming. One applicant was interested in what strategy the company is pursuing for the next few years and whether there is an official strategy paper. Sustainability and a solid framework were very important to her. She did not get a satisfactory answer to her question – and decided against this employer.
So, go ahead and commit these “faux pas” and dare to ask questions that are super important for you and your job decision, even if you are not sure whether your counterpart can answer them confidently. You don’t have to be uncomfortable when (also) your interlocutors start swimming – as long as you don’t consciously expose them. Both sides have the right to ask any questions the answers of which are important to them.
You make it clear what you need in the new job to be able to work well
“May I say that I have to be able to identify with the products?”, an applicant in the sales department asked me after I had worked with him on his most important values in his job. “May I say that I need leeway to make decisions when completing tasks?” Many applicants are afraid of expressing expectations of their new employer that could make them appear impudent or arrogant.
You should definitely commit this “faux pas” because this is the only way for your new employer to find out what is important to you and to judge for himself whether he can offer you the working environment and the framework that you need to do good in a team To perform well and in the end to stay motivated and healthy. It goes without saying that this is not about the exaggerated salary claim or the fat company car. But even if adequate pay is extremely important to you as an appreciation of your work, you should also express this at an early stage to create clarity in the conversation.
You want to get to know the team beforehand and see your new workplace
“We do not tolerate applicant tourism in our company”, a recruiter is said to have once said in response. For me, that would have ended the conversation. For many applicants, it is extremely important to see their future workplace and also to get a first impression of their colleagues. I advise all job changers to whom collegiality is extremely important in the second or third interview – so if both sides are very interested in a job, to ask for a trial workday to get a good feeling for the working atmosphere and the team.
So, if you don’t care where and with whom you will spend 8 hours or more a day in the next few years, then commit these “faux pas”.
You engage in a casual conversation, and you even enjoy it
Small talk at the beginning of the interview is ok – yes, it is even a must, you have probably already read that in the guides. But then it must be about the seriousness of the matter, after all, an interview is no fun, is it? A young applicant confessed to me that in a telephone interview she got along really well with the HR officer, who was about the same age, and that she even got into chatting about private matters, and it was really nice – but the rejection came a little later. She attributed it to the casual conversation.
I think you should be happy if this “faux pas” happens to you. There is nothing better than being on the same wavelength as someone you are talking to and being able to have a relaxed conversation. Who says that a good interview just has to be serious and rigid? Who says you can’t laugh together sometimes? My book tip: If you take it easy, it will be easier.
After the interview, you admit that it doesn’t fit, and you don’t want the job
You are in conversation and after an hour it is clear to you: It won’t work with this boss! Or the task turns out to be completely different from the one described in the job advertisement and your desire for it has vanished in the conversation. But when applicants say that it doesn’t fit? – you can’t do that! A typical way of thinking for applicants in supplication.
You already guessed it, you should commit this “faux pas” too because it saves you from taking on a job that you actually don’t feel like doing. A job interview is a meeting at which both sides can clarify whether it makes sense to work together in the next few years. If you come to the realization or the gut feeling in the course of the conversation that it does not fit, then you should first question this for yourself and then express to your interlocutors what moves you.
Faux pas in the job interview? – It doesn’t even exist!
If you have read this far, you may have noticed that I think that there are actually no bad faux pas, faux pas, missteps, or mishaps in job interviews.
Of course, it is uncomfortable if you spread the contents of your glass of water over the table in excitement or if you notice in the middle of the conversation that you have put on two different colored socks in the morning. Of course, it is a difficult situation for you as an applicant when you realize that your counterpart is overwhelmed with a question from you and of course it is difficult to positively sell the termination of your last employer as a reason to change.
But a faux pas always arises from an evaluation of behavior or what is said as well as the feeling that arises in you or the people in your environment based on it. Your attitude and personal attitude determine whether something is embarrassing or not.
My tip: Talk about the obvious instead of panicking and trying to hide something convulsively. This usually relaxes the situation suddenly, and you show that you can handle it with confidence.