Usually, career advice columns share tips about how you can shine in a job interview and get the job of your dreams.

Let’s try a slightly different approach today and talk about what job candidates should not do or say.

Recently, I sat down with Heather Whitley-Quinn, who works with me as Manpower San Diego’s human resource director. We commiserated about something I find disappointing and downright irritating: Job candidates who come to us woefully underprepared or simply not prepared at all.

Worse, we agreed that we can’t believe the basic mistakes so many candidates make without having a clue that they’ve just convinced us to mentally push the “delete” button.

Let’s start with not doing your homework.

Try taking the time to look at our website. Familiarize yourself with our company. At the very least, find out how long I have been at Manpower and that I am the owner. Search our job base. Find out what companies we represent. Look at our Interview Guide.

Take a look at my bio. But don’t get creepy and just happen to casually mention that you know I was born in Great Bend, Kansas.


Go ahead and ask me a few general questions about my professional background. But questions or comments about my personal life are not welcome. Same with any other interview situation. Don’t do it.

Just as I expect you to be prepared, I will be, as well. Before considering you for an interview, I will check out your LinkedIn profile and perhaps glance at your Facebook posts.

I expect you to do the same. If you have any posts that might make someone like me think you’re silly, foolish and immature, delete them.

Charcoal is a classic suit color choice, like this combination on the Ted Baker London Bufalo Twill Jacket and Trousers.
Interview style tips for the modern man

Now, instead of emphasizing the usual “to-do” list, here’s a brief list of what not to say in the interview.

• “Sorry I’m late.” Shows a distinct lack of consideration. Whatever the reason, you’re not off to a good start.

• “Remind me, what does your company do?” The kiss of death. Instead, come to the interview with insightful questions about our firm’s product line and strategy going forward — and where you might fit in.


• “Sorry, I didn’t bring a pen or sheet of paper.” You mean, to take real handwritten notes, just in case I happen to say something of interest?

• “Sorry, I didn’t bring a paper resume.” For my sake, bring one. Better yet, bring several copies.

• “I hope my lunch break is long enough to check out the waves.” Yes, I’ve heard that one. He wasn’t kidding.

Which brings us to the end of the interview and the goodbyes … without you mentioning in specific terms that you are, indeed, truly interested, hopefully even excited, about getting the job. As in, “I’m very interested in joining your company.”

Why is that important? Because, believe me, all HR pros tend to pay much more attention to candidates who show a high level of knowledge and enthusiasm about our company and the available position.

If you are not interested in the job, tell us at the end of the interview or later that day. Don’t waste our time and yours. Because, chances are, we’ve reached the same conclusion.


All right, the interview is finally over and you haven’t done any of the “don’ts.” Good for you.

Now’s the time to send a courteous, professionally crafted email or (preferably) written thank-you note that highlights something we talked about.

Show me you’ve put some thought into your note. Most important, tell me (again) that you are definitely interested in the position. Plus, show me that you have some degree of old-fashioned social graces. They still matter.

Phil Blair is a co-founder of Manpower San Diego and author of “Job Won.”