Advice for Young Job Seekers – 6 Things Not To Do On A Job Interview

Looking for a job? Hey it’s a tough market out there and getting a foot in the door is often the hardest part for young people just starting out.

Over the years I’ve done my fair share of hiring, so as a year-end public service to young job seekers I thought I’d offer this humorous look at what it’s like from the other side of the table.

Some of this stuff will seem like a no-brainer but I swear that these are still the most common errors I see from potential employees.

Naturally I wrote this post in my favorite style of literature ever which you can read about here called The Listicle.

So here’s my list of the 6 Things Not To Do On A Job Interview:

1. Don’t be late

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of stockimages at

I mean really, how can anyone not f’ng know this right? Well, you’d be surprised.

I’d say that 1 in 6 people show up at least ten minutes late for their scheduled appointment.

Remember the old saying: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

You haven’t gotten the job yet and you’re already showing that you can’t be relied upon to be on time. Hey you’re quite the find!

If someone shows up late on me it may not cost them the job, but they better be supremely qualified and then ace the interview too.

Whether you drive or use public transit, Google Maps will show you the best way to get there and how long it will take. Add fifteen minutes for traffic and another ten just in case and don’t be late.

2. If you can’t respect #1 – don’t panic, but don’t show up without calling

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Potential employers understand that things happen. Last minute emergencies, people get stuck in traffic, accidents or other situations beyond our control can derail plans. No biggie.

But remember everyone is on a schedule. Chances are your interviewer has other candidates to see after you.

The solution is simple. Nowadays not only can you text, Tweet, and play games on them, but Smartphones can also be used to…wait for it: CALL PEOPLE!

So as a courtesy to the person who may be holding your future in their hands, the minute you see you’re going to be late, pick up the phone and let them know.


You don’t need to tell them your life story. Trust me, they don’t have time for it. A simple, “I’m sorry something has come up and I won’t be on time” will suffice.

Then let them know when you can be there, and they’ll decide if that works or if it’s better to reschedule.

My all-time worst interviewee was a young women who showed up forty minutes late and never called. I was getting ready for my next appointment when she came blustering in without apologizing. She sat texting on her phone while complaining that our location wasn’t convenient for her. Oh, and she wasn’t sure she could manage our 8:30 AM start time either.

No really: Like WTF was she even doing there?!

I was so flummoxed by her audacity that I allowed her ten minutes to show her portfolio for the graphics position we were filling. Needless to say my mind was already made up and our meeting ended with a polite but firm “I don’t think you have the qualities needed for this job.” Like self-awareness or basic common sense!

3. Don’t dress too casual

Remember the context of the meeting is business, so be presentable. Keep visual distractions to a minimum and as they say, dress for the job.

Ladies this means that unless you’re applying for a job as a pole-dancer, please keep your latest acquisitions from Victoria’s Secret well under wraps.

I’m sure they look great on you but I don’t need nor do I want to see your underwear or what’s inside it.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of adamr at

Needless to say if you’re coming to me for a job as a pole-dancer, well you’re in the wrong place. Thanks all the same for stopping by!

I thought that Bon Jovi song was an excellent choice, and by golly you sure are flexible 😀

You gentlemen should know that cargo shorts and t-shirts might work if you’re vying for a job as a lifeguard but for an office job, for the love of Pete; make an effort to look business-presentable!

This includes at the very least, clean, untorn jeans or dockers, but preferably dress pants PULLED UP TO YOUR WAIST (because no one wants to see your underwear either), and some kind of shirt with a collar.

Your choice in socks, and I believe most ladies will agree, is a topic for a whole ‘nuther post!

4. Don’t act too casual

Image courtesy of artur84 at

Image courtesy of artur84 at

Remember that the protocol is different on a job interview than a casual setting.

Understand that the interviewer is the one calling the shots, not you. Be friendly and approachable, but also be respectful and let them lead.

I laugh every time I recall the lady I  interviewed for a technical writing position some years ago.

As we walked towards the table to sit down, I pointed to a chair and asked her to take a seat while pulling out my own chair.

She must not have seen me point, because she went to sit in the chair I was pulling out.

I stopped her and pointed again to where she was supposed to sit.

Between her body language and rolling her eyes it was clear she was offended that I was not being a gentleman and holding the chair for her. I let it slide and didn’t say anything, but in reality I felt like asking if she realized she was on a job interview and not a fricken date.

5. Don’t badmouth your former employer

“Why did you leave your last job?”

Everyone asks this question but I’ll let you in on a little secret, we don’t really care.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Unless you were dismissed for doing something immoral, illegal, or harmful to the company, say like relieving yourself into a batch of the Colonel’s secret batter, we’ve heard it all before and expect that it was probably quite reasonable.

What we really want is to see how you handle a delicate question.

Use common sense and answer with tact and diplomacy, in a manner that doesn’t show contempt for that prick of a former boss. Save those details for your friends, not your new boss, who may or may not be a prick too!

6. Don’t go in unprepared

Do your homework and ask intelligent questions. I am astounded by the number of people who show up without the slightest notion of what the company they supposedly want to work for actually does.

It’s almost 2015 dude! The company surely has a website, a Facebook and LinkedIn page, and they’re probably on Twitter and YouTube as well.

Unless you’re really not interested in the job, which we’ll figure out in the twenty minutes we spend together anyway, invest an hour or two online to find out what your prospective employer is about.

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at

Show that you can think ahead and make a list of questions about anything you see that’s relevant to the role you’ll be playing within the company.

Now I seriously doubt that following this advice alone will land you your dream job, but I promise you that ignoring it will guarantee that you don’t get called for a second interview.

Happy job hunting!

About Norm 3.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
This entry was posted in Humor, Opinions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Advice for Young Job Seekers – 6 Things Not To Do On A Job Interview

  1. I’m in the midst of my own job search after being laid off in August – first “break” in 25 years of working and I have enjoyed it, I have to say, even though I need to get back to work. This post made me chuckle. I am always petrified of being late because I have that tendency in real life, but so far so good. And my last situation ended due to a major reorganization which resulted in the loss of a number of jobs in addition to my own, so need to bite my tongue and smile when asked about my former employer!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. spanishwoods says:

    I completely agree with every single point. It’s surprising and alarming how many people violate these (what I would consider to be common sense) rules.


  3. George says:

    Great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Almost Iowa says:

    There is a secret to gaining entry into the middle class: show up every day on time. I have gotten jobs by telling my future employer I would do that and they could call my previous employer to verify it was true. I was hired on the spot by The Steel Foundry when I told them that – their wage put me firmly into the middle-class (of course, I was young and blew all my money but that is another story.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      I know what you mean. One of the nicest, (yet saddest) compliments I ever received was from a former customer who asked me after I’d left my employer, if I’d be interesting in going to work for him.
      His exact words on why he wanted to hire me: “Norm you always did what you said you would do.”
      Gee, I thought that everybody did, but sadly I guess not.


  5. jan says:

    I interviewed a lady for a job once who had dirty fingernails, wore flip-flops and put on her resume that she knew how to use a stapler! Now there’s a skill you want to highlight! Happy Christmas Norm – I’m also posting oldies!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. joey says:

    “Like self-awareness or basic common sense!” LOL I never. These are amazingly awkward stories, Norm!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Norm 2.0 says:

    Reblogged this on Norm 2.0 and commented:

    I got nothing.
    As the saying goes, I’m up to my a$$ in alligators trying to get things done both at work and at home before the Christmas break.
    Aside from a few pics and of course the weekly Thursday Doors post, I have not had any time to put together anything new, so instead I offer you one of my favorite posts from this time last year. In case you haven’t seen it before – I hope you enjoy a few chuckles.


  8. joyezeka says:

    #6 is very important. I did that a long time ago for a scholarship interview and it didn’t’ turn out well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are a very kind man… I somehow just cannot tolerate someone turning up late and not even bothering to call ahead about their lateness… Also, while I do my best to make the interview easy going, it always bothers me when the person being interviewed thinks therefore that they can take up casual conversation topics! There is a line and it is useful to know where that line is and to err on the side of caution… Thanks for putting this out!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan Antion says:

    This is very good advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Another HR person thanks you for this. Also, the obvious ones, like don’t bring your lunch and eat it and make sure to ask thoughtful follow up questions are good ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      I’ve never had anyone eat in front of my during an interview an dthis is a good thing; I’d probably slap the food out of their hand.
      Follow up questions – yes! It shows they’re paying attention.


      • NotAPunkRocker says:

        I want to do a post or two on interviews, etc. but I have to watch it in my job. Besides, I am a government employee anyway so things aren’t the same as private sector in terms of options sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Norm 2.0 says:

          Makes sense, I’d definitely err on the side of caution in that case.
          Whether a private or public employer, I think it’s a good idea to avoid getting into too much detail on anything related to work. Certainly nothing detailing policy, procedure, or quirks in the system that can be misinterpreted as criticism.


  12. Having spent many years as an HR professional, I smiled reading this post. In today’s environment, I’m guessing you’d need to add a #6 to your listicle about electronics – take the ear buds out, turn the smartphone to vibrate, leave it in a pocket/purse, and don’t take any selfies during the interview. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Judy. Yes I could have gone on but at over 1200 words this post is too long already.
      I’ve had people text in front of me while the interview was in progress, but no earbuds or headphones, and no selfies…yet 🙂
      Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post at some point.


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