Chew Gum and Belch: Five Ways to Ruin an Interview

I enjoy reading about others’ embarrassing moments. There’s nothing funnier than someone mispronouncing a name so that it sounds racy, or falling right in front of someone they want to make a good impression on. How about when someone has a big green piece of spinach between his teeth during a very important presentation? Everyone has a different sense of humor, of course, but embarrassing moments cease being hilarious when they happen to you!

What about during a job interview? We of course want to avoid embarrassment when we are trying to impress our future bosses and coworkers! Here are five ways to keep your foot out of your mouth!

Don’t chew gum.
It sounds simple enough, but sometimes chewing something, whether it’s gum, mints, or even tobacco, is a habit that we don’t even think about while we’re doing it. But chewing gum while interviewing can be distracting and annoying to interviewers who may think you are not taking the interview seriously.

Don’t belch.
Of course you would not typically belch in mixed company or in a group that is not comprised of your friends and family, right? (If you would, you may want to refer to some etiquette websites or books.) But sometimes belching or other bodily noises happen when we don’t expect them. Try to prevent them from happening by avoiding carbonated beverages before or during your interview, and avoiding heavy and greasy foods the evening before and the morning of the interview in order to keep your stomach happy.

Don’t be late!
I have worked with a few managers who have refused to meet with candidates who showed up late. Map your route to the work site the day before your interview and make plans to be there 15-20 minutes early. That way you can breathe deeply for a few minutes, check your makeup and breath, and gather your resume and note pad or briefcase. Showing up 5-10 minutes early will impress your interviewers. If the unexpected does happen and you are going to be late, make sure to call the interviewers at least 15 minutes before the interview start time to inform them. This shows that you are planning ahead and are concerned for their time.

Don’t curse.
It doesn’t matter how familiar you may be with your interviewers prior to the interview, you should avoid cursing of any type. I realize buddies sometimes shoot the breeze and throw a few swear words in here and there, but during an interview, you should make sure you treat everyone present with as much professionalism as you can. Don’t tell the interviewers about how ***** traffic was this morning, or what an ******* your previous boss was. You can save those discussions and choice words for your buddies when you chat later that day.

Don’t share too much.
I remember being in a group meeting one time where our boss asked a new coworker to explain the type of work he’d done previously. He was obviously excited about his work and went on for at least 20 minutes explaining the intricacies of all projects he’d participated in at his last job! He lost most of the group after just a few minutes. My point? Keep your answers short and to the point. If the interviewer wants to know more, she’ll ask. Make sure to answer the questions that are asked and pay attention to the others in the room. If their attention seems to be shifting from you or they glance towards the clock or their watches, it’s time to wrap up your answer nicely and wait for the next question.

Be calm and try to relax during your interview. My mantra during my last interview was “be yourself”. I repeated this over and over in my head on my way there and a few times during the interview. I got the job and would like to think that this mantra helped! Pay attention to how you are presenting yourself (see 1-5 above) and you will be fine. Good luck!