When you think about the common interview mistakes—showing up late (or way too early), over (or under) dressing, not coming prepared with research about the company—you probably picture entry-level folks, straight out of college. They’re new to the working world, and perhaps they just haven’t yet learned the ins and outs of interviewing.
But not so fast. It turns out that even senior-level candidates make blunders during the interview process—major ones.
I asked nine YEC startup founders to explain the biggest mistakes they’ve seen when it comes to interviewing more experienced candidates. Here are some of the worst, so you can avoid them at all costs.
1. You’re Acting Arrogant
There are ways to show you’re experienced other than portraying a cocky attitude. I much prefer a humble person who radiates confidence over someone who won’t stop talking about his or her accomplishments. This reeks of desperation. You can tell someone is experienced without listening to him or her recite every accomplishment.
2. You Haven’t Done Your Homework
There’s nothing worse than bringing in someone for an interview who hasn’t taken the time to do his or her homework. There’s a lot of time, energy, and money that goes into the hiring process. We have to do our due diligence on hires and expect that they will do theirs on us—as well as the position we’re offering. It shows that someone just doesn’t care enough to want the job.
3. You Make Assumptions
There are some candidates who assume the culture in this organization is the same as their last, and what they’ve seen work elsewhere will work here as well. But often, this isn’t true. And their assumptions can do us harm. I am wary of candidates who give specific solutions without first understanding the new situation.
4. You Let Your Phone Distract You
Letting your phone be a distraction is a no-go. Recently, a candidate’s phone went off during the interview for a finance role. We waited while the candidate tapped a few times on the phone thinking that she was setting it to silent. Moments later, when the phone rang again, she took it out and checked it. I immediately pronounced that the interview was over and walked out of the room.
5. You’re Dishonest
Having all the right answers can be questionable. There have been a handful of times when an individual’s skill level was nothing near where he or she said it was. It’s disappointing, but I’ve made it a point to double-check all candidates’ resumes and really tune in to what they’re saying.
—Sheldon Michael, Netjumps International
6. You Don’t Ask Questions
I’ve always been surprised when candidates don’t ask any questions in an interview. This shows they either don’t know anything about the company or job, lack motivation, or just assume they’re qualified. In today’s fast-paced and multitasking job environment, curiosity, and creativity from every level is very important.
7. You’re Looking for “Relief” From a Corporate Job
I look for a candidate who uses time effectively; someone who is unable to concisely communicate without consistently rambling is a flag. Additionally, I’ve interviewed candidates coming from larger companies who describe their interest in 10up as a “relief” from their old, difficult job. I want new employees to think of 10up as their next big opportunity to progress to the next level in their careers.
8. You Have Unconscious Prejudices
It’s surprising the amount of prejudiced comments that more experienced professionals can make without understanding why they’re inappropriate. I take racist or sexist comments seriously. We have a diverse team at Hubstaff and I want everyone to feel welcome and included. Not only is prejudice unprofessional, but it also creates a toxic environment on our team that’s detrimental to diversity.
9. You Throw Others Under the Bus
There is a fine line between showing interest and understanding by critiquing current processes or strategies and simply throwing grenades. Make sure that any suggestion you make doesn’t place you on the opposite side of someone who currently works in the company.
Photo of unsure woman courtesy of Eric Audras/Getty Images.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.More from this Author