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Physician and Healthcare Job Board

The 9 Don’ts of Interviewing

things not to do in a job interview

You’ve received a call from an application for your dream job, and they want to schedule an interview. Now what? Preparing for an interview can be daunting. As important as it may be to make sure that you do everything right, however, it is even more important to avoid some of the fatal flaws that can cost you this opportunity. Knowing the “don’ts” of interviewing is vital.


1. Don’t be late

If you are late to something as important as your interview, it is a sign that you will probably be late to your job on a regular day. On a deeper level, being late sends the signal that you might not be dependable. Leave lots of extra time when going to your interview location, and make sure that you have driven the route to get there at least once before.

If you have an unavoidable delay, like you have a flat tire or your appendix bursts, be sure to call your interviewer as soon as possible and transparently explain the situation.


2. Don’t look unprofessional

A professional appearance is essential. Always err on the side of being overdressed and paying too much attention to your appearance. Even if the company dress code is very relaxed, showing up in professional attire will show that you care about the interview and that you respect the interviewer and the company.

A professional appearance includes not only your dress, but also your hygienic appearance. Having a fresh haircut or making sure of something as simple as your fingernails being trimmed can make a huge difference in your professional appearance.


3. Don’t be unprofessional

Looking professional is worthless if you don’t act professional. Being polite, avoiding a casual tone, not interrupting, paying attention while the interviewer is speaking, and making good eye contact are all basic components of acting professional. While looking professional will only give a good first impression, how you act will give a lasting one.


4. Don’t get distracted

There might be parts of the interview that aren’t that interesting or a time when the interviewer starts to ramble. Getting distracted, fidgeting, or missing something that was said can make your interview go very poorly. Getting distracted conveys the message to the interviewer that you don’t think he/she is important, and that will certainly not help your chances of success.


5. Don’t be unprepared

Being a little bit underprepared, while not ideal, might be forgivable, but being unprepared is probably not. Doing thorough research on the company, the role you have applied for, and even the interviewer, will give you the best possible chance of success.


6. Don’t over-inflate your abilities

During an interview you have to try to sell yourself to some extent, but if you overdo it, you come across as arrogant. Be sure to frame your positive attributes in a way that includes giving credit to others. Instead of saying, “I was the top salesperson on my last team for the last two years”, consider something like, “I was fortunate to work with a great team and the support of the team and my manager around me helped be their top performer for the last two years.”

While it should go without saying, you should never over-inflate your abilities by embellishing the truth. Odds are someone who does this will be found out, and when they do, their chances are definitely over.


7. Don’t skip asking questions

At the end of your interview, your interviewer will inevitably ask you if you have any questions. Skipping the opportunity to ask questions will make you appear uninterested and is not a good plan. Be sure to be prepared with at least three insightful questions that express your interest in the company. While it is okay to ask about pay, be sure not to only ask about pay, as that gives the impression that you’re not interested in anything except the money.


8. Don’t have your phone on

Phones are a constant source of distraction, and there isn’t any reason for you to have it on during an interview. Only bad things can happen if your phone is on during an interview, from getting a call, to accidentally dialing someone in your pocket, to having an alarm go off. Definitely keep the phone off while you’re interviewing.


9. Don’t check the time

Checking the time during an interview gives the impression that you want it to be over. Even though you might just be curious as to what time it is, checking the time can give the wrong impression. It’s best not to schedule anything for right after an interview, and if the interview goes longer planned, that is normally a good thing, not a bad thing.


The good news is most of the “don’ts” of interviewing can be avoided with a little bit of planning and a little bit of conscious effort. By avoiding these simple mistakes, you can truly stand out in your interview and get that dream job.

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About Benjamin "Caleb" Williams RN, BA, CEN

Caleb is an Ivy League-educated nurse consultant with a strong clinical background, including supervisory positions within ICU and ER settings. In addition to his clinical work, Caleb practices as an expert nurse consultant and nurse writer, having written hundreds of healthcare-related articles and advised major businesses across the country on healthcare matters. He is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and holds multiple advanced certifications in emergency and trauma nursing.

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