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Thread by @jensenharris: "There are certain behaviors in a job interview that cause automatic disqualification. Earlier in my career, I made several of these mistakes […]"

17 tweets, 3 min read
There are certain behaviors in a job interview that cause automatic disqualification. Earlier in my career, I made several of these mistakes myself.

Unfortunately, I see these pretty much every week. Here are 5 of the worst behaviors that everyone should avoid when interviewing:
1) Don’t talk bad about all of your previous managers.

Yes, it's true: many managers are mediocre and some are outright terrible. I have no issue with someone relating that they worked in a hard or unstable environment, as long as they do so respectfully.
But when I hear constant blame, that every single thing that went wrong was because their manager was stupid, bad at decision making, inept, etc., I can't help but think "this is how you'll talk about me in 18 months when you're at your next job interview.”
I really appreciate when people talk about toxic work environments constructively and with a growth mindset.

"My manager and I didn't always agree, and from that I learned [better communication / to check in with her more / to find another mentor, etc.]”
A job interview is not therapy.

Look inward at failures. Don't blame others in an interview, even if it's technically their fault. Be honest, but also diplomatic.

I messed up several otherwise-promising job interviews in my life by making this mistake. Be positive, look inward.
2) Don't casually drop "douche nozzle" during your interviews.

So, I am not a prude. I can F*** S*** up with the best of them. I helped assemble Textio's obscenity list, which is full of some pretty depraved stuff.

But in an interview, you don't know who you are talking to.
While a swear or two probably won't tank your chances, maybe the interview day is a good time to just slow down on the potty mouth for a few hours?

When someone can't control their language during an interview, I think "what about with customers? guests? business partners?"
We recently interviewed an otherwise smart exec who constantly spouted the phrase "douche nozzle."

At the end of the interview day, we asked for a show of hands: in how many 1 on 1 interviews did he refer to someone as a "douche nozzle."

Every single hand went up. No hire. 🤫
3) Do your homework.

No, I don't mean make sure you complete any take-home assignment prior to the interview (though if you skip that, you are probably doomed anyway.)

I mean you need to come in prepared with a basic knowledge of the company or team you're interviewing with.
Especially if you are interviewing at a startup, spend an hour doing your research. Here's the formula:

1) Crunchbase. Find out funding, investors, etc.
2) LinkedIn. Who works there?
3) Glassdoor. What do people say about the company?
4) Company web site. Read all you can stand.
Nothing is more “meh” than the question "so what does this company do?" 😐

You don't have to know who I am or when our last product launch was, but if you don't show any up-front curiosity, how can you know if a company is a match for you? Or what questions you want to ask?
4) Don’t gossip.

I love hearing the soap opera dirt about who did what bad things at your previous company, but it's not good form in an interview.

You end up wasting valuable time; it might be pleasurable, but makes it hard for the interviewer to end up excited to hire you.
By wallowing in gossipy stories, you miss opportunities for substantive discussion about your skills and your match for the company. It emotionally heightens the interview and can make the interviewer feel awkward.

What ends up being remembered are your stories, not your skills.
5) Leave the confidential information at home.

Please, please PLEASE. I beg of you. I don't want to see your current company's P&L, the not-yet-launched product you are working on, the laminated internal marketing materials you use, the code you are writing for work. None of it.
It puts the employer in a weird (and possibly illegal) situation to have access to confidential information they're not supposed to have.

It means that we couldn't trust you with our own confidential information if you became an employee. It is a total nonstarter, a loop ender.
If you feel like you do need to show your current work, do so in a redacted form.

Say "I've used marketing materials similar to this in the past." Sketch architecture without showing code. Talk through hard problems you've solved while leaving proprietary details behind.
Interviewing for a new job can be stressful and a ton of work.

When successful, though, it can land you in a more enlightened place where you are seen, appreciated, and love coming to work. 💜

Avoid these simple mistakes and you'll be well on your way to success!
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