In an earlier post I addressed the first five things to not do if you want to impress recruiters and land your dream job:

  1. Submit generic resumes and cover letters
  2. Relying too heavily on the online submission process
  3. Not using industry-specific buzzwords
  4. Not doing due diligence
  5. Not knowing one’s worth in the market

The interview is the critical make-or-break point between you and your dream job. That’s why it’s even more important that you prepare well for the interview, and know what you need to do to land your dream job. Here are five things not to do:

1. Not Knowing the Correct Answer to the “What Can You Do for Me?” Question

Many job candidates are so heavily involved with themselves when they’re searching for a job, they forget about the bigger picture – why the employer is hiring in the first place. Consequently, if they have not previously thought about this question, they may not have an appropriate answer when asked.

The employer has a problem and hiring a qualified candidate can solve it. Think about the problem ahead of time and have an answer ready to show how if they hire you, you are going to solve that problem for them.

2. Not Knowing Proper Interviewing Etiquette

While most interviews are more relaxed now than they used to be, there are still some standards to meet. It is easy to forget to put your smartphone on airplane mode or turn it off altogether when going into an interview. There is no way to better kill an interview than to have an incoming phone call or receive a text/email notification during an interview.

The other etiquette piece is dressing for the interview. While you don’t want to be overdressed, you don’t want to risk underdressed either. While you are on the phone with Human Resources asking for contact information, ask what the appropriate dress is for an interview with their company.

 3. Being Honest About Your Capabilities

Some candidates are so desperate to get a job that they will agree to anything and everything whether they are capable of doing what is asked or not. Skilled interviewers know that every job candidate has their own challenges, needs, and goals as far as what they are looking for in a job. By discussing these concerns honestly during an interview, sometimes a different (and better) job is open and would be a better match for both you and the company.

Also as a candidate, ask questions about the things you are looking for by working for that company – things like advancement opportunities, benefits, stock options, etc.

4. Bashing Current or Previous Employers

When asked the infamous interview question “Why are you leaving [or did leave] your current [previous] job?”, it can be a natural reaction to bad mouth or bash your employer. Don’t do it. Instead take the high road and in a nice way, tell the interviewer why you are looking for a change of employment.

Employees are representatives of the company and with brand recognition (both positive and negative) at stake, if you bash a current or previous employer, there is a good chance you will disrespect their company too.

5. Sloppy responses to emailed or text questions

Although using a smartphone is the communication device of choice these days, be careful of using it to answer any follow-up questions or correspondence requiring a reply. While you may think it will favorably reflect on you by firing back an almost immediate response from wherever you are, it is more beneficial to wait until you are on your computer at home, where you can carefully craft a response that has the proper grammar, spelling and fully answers what was asked.

In today’s competitive job market, one must know the “rules” of applying and interviewing for a job. Avoid these mistakes and increase our chances that you will get the job of your dreams.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.