10 Avoidable IT Interview Flubs

In any interview, even one wrong turn can change you from a dream candidate to a potential nightmare. eWEEK rounds up 10 errors that could cost you your next callback.

A study released the week of Aug. 28 by Menlo Park, Calif., staffing firm Accountemps found that one of the most common mistakes made by candidates in job interviews was having little or no knowledge of the company, according to 47 percent of the senior executives surveyed.

While IT recruiters and managers still peg a lack of preparation near the top of their lists of interview gaffes, they cited many others that turned interviewees from dream candidates to inevitable nightmare employees in a matter of moments.

Below, eWEEK rounds up some of the worst offenses, and while were certain that none of you would ever make such obvious errors, it never hurts to review before your next interview.

1. Late to the interview means late on projects and deadlines

Youd think in this day and age that something as simple as showing up to the right place on time would be a no-brainer, and yet, hiring managers said that candidates arrive tardy all the time.


Brian Gabrielson, national practice director for Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professional services in Mountain View, Calif., said that interviewees sometimes forget that when the competition is tough, it often comes down to the little things like punctuality.

"All things being equal, Im going to pick the person who showed up on time, looked me in the eye and had manners," said Gabrielson.

Showing up on time is more than the icing on the cake, however. It conveys to potential employers that you will be equally punctual with deadlines, and that you will be organized enough to keep projects in line.

2. Lack of enthusiasm means you dont care about your work

One of the most aggravating interview gaffes noted by IT recruiters was a lack of enthusiasm for the job.

"One of them actually said, I dont want to work with people. I just want to be left alone to do my job," Gabrielson told eWEEK. "Can you imagine the impression that left?"

This lack of interest in the job also applies to individuals too eager to move up the ladder; even if a company has high hopes for you, they still need you to start with the task at hand.

Heather Galler, CEO of JobKite, a Land O Lakes, Fla., national job site said: "A client told me about someone interviewing for a help desk position, and when asked what kind of work they wanted to do, he said I sure dont want to get stuck answering phones all day!"

While Galler attributed this comment to the risk that sometimes comes when a more senior person says that they are willing to do simpler work, needless to say, this individuals chance at getting the job was immediately nixed.

3. Little to no company knowledge means you lack research skills

Do your homework, hiring professionals told eWEEK, or risk embarrassment.

"Ive seen guys who said I really want to work here and what you guys do is great and then when asked what we do that interests them, they cant answer. They havent read your Web site and they dont know your product and then theyre shocked that someone tried to quiz them on it," Josh Coates, founder and CEO of software company Berkeley Data Systems, based in American Fork, Utah, told eWEEK.

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It shouldnt come as a surprise that companies are impressed when youve done your research on them before you walked in the door, and as an IT professional, this should extend to their technical systems.

"Out of sheer curiosity, one would expect that as an IT professional who wants this job, youre going to want to know what systems they are using, and yet we hear that this doesnt always happen," said Galler.

4. Inappropriate dress translates to inappropriate work

Dressing inappropriately for an interview goes both ways: A candidate, either overly-scrubbed or not neat enough, loses points.

It behooves workers to find out the dress code of an office before they arrive. A lot of newer companies have a more casual atmosphere, and the once-required suit will cause an individual to stick out or make others uncomfortable.

"I see a lot of people way overdressed for interviews, wearing a three-piece suit or even strong cologne. Its important that you dress for the culture where you are interviewing," said Coates.

More common, however, is the "waist-up" dress code often seen in IT pros, where the shirt looks neat but below the desk lie worn out shoes and old jeans.

Next Page: Leave the negativity at the door.