An interview should be a conversation between two people. Nothing more, nothing less.

In many ways it is like dating: two people sitting together and trying to learn a bit about each other to see if they want to spend more time together in the near future.

If you are looking for a job (especially a job as a DBA) here are ten things that will likely result in my losing your phone number when you walk out the door.

1. Being Unprepared

There are many ways for you to appear unprepared for the interview. Showing up late, not having showered, not bringing even a pen and paper to write something down are all ways for me to look at you and second guess how prepared you will be to handle the responsibilities of working on our team. Even how you dress can say a lot. You should call ahead to inquire about the dress code of the company and dress accordingly for the interview. If it is business casual and you show up in shorts then that is another way for me to think you were not prepared. You don’t want to overdress, either, so it is important to check.

You would spend time dressing appropriately for a date, so why not for an interview?

2. Embellishing Your Resume

Don’t lie to me. That’s what my lawyer is for.

If you do, I *will* find out about it soon enough. And from that point forward I will not be able to trust you fully. That’s a bad thing.

Even for my lawyer.

3. Bad Questions, Like Really Bad Questions

Asking me things like “How many warnings before I get fired?” or “What would you define as sexual harassment?” are good examples. And yes, candidates really do ask such questions.

Would you ask a date “how much slacking off can I get away with in a relationship with you?” No, you wouldn’t, not if you expected to date them again.

4. Not Knowing Anything About The Company

Not knowing even the smallest bit of detail about the company is a bad sign. Mispronouncing the name of the company doesn’t stand out in a positive way, either.

Imagine if you showed up on a date and forgot the person’s name? Or didn’t even know the slightest detail about them in order to get a conversation started? That date would end early, and so will your job interview.

5. Bad Mouthing Others

If you get asked about your former job it may serve you well to refrain from talking about what a jerk of a boss you used to work for. You would also do well to not mention the idiot coworkers, or how management was really bad. Even if all those things were true, you don’t gain points by mentioning them.

Can you imagine being a date and the other person just talks about their ex all night? Dreadful, really.

6. Argumentative

“Wow, I would sure love to have more debates with them every day!” <– Said no one at the end of an interview, ever.

Stop debating someone during an interview. Don’t EVER use the words “you’re wrong”, or try to name drop in order to win an argument. I’m interested in your experience, too, not just the experience of your friends. If you answer all my questions with “Mitt Romney says NULLs are evil, so I never use them”  it is going to make me wonder if you are going to Bingle every decision you will need to make to find some blogger (even me, thanks!) who will tell you what to do.

You don’t win anything by arguing. Not on a date, and not in an interview.

7. Not Being Yourself

If you appear to be trying too hard to win my approval then that is a red flag for me. For example, the overuse of humor during an interview. Or trying to use technical terms you really don’t understand.  It’s as if you were a carnivore trying to pretend to be vegan for your date.  Eventually you order double bacon on your veggie burger and it’s all over.

It is important that you try to be yourself at all times. You want the other person to like you for being you, not for the person you pretended to be.

8. No Professional Development

You should be doing something outside of work to improve your professional skills. If you are applying for a technical position I am apt to ask you what technical communities or associations do you belong to. I’m not expecting you to be traveling the world as a speaker and author, I’m just looking to know that you are passionate about what you do; that you are motivated to stay ahead of the curve in technology and career skills.

9. Knowing Nothing About Everything

Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially a know-it-all who is really a know-it-nothing. If you don’t know the answer to something, just say “I don’t know”. Don’t pretend that you have experience in an area that you have never used or touched. It’s OK to tell me that you read about something but never used it before. That’s fine. But trying to pretend you are an expert in SQL 2007 is not going to get you anywhere, fast.

Would you spend your entire date pretending you knew everything?

10. Not Asking Any Questions

You simply must ask questions at the end of the interview. Even a simple “What are the next steps?” is good to get started with. Not asking any questions is a bad thing. There are many things you should want to know about: the company, the benefits, the work environment, your team mates, the tools we use, the tools we don’t use, etc.  Be part of the conversation.  It’s your date as well.

If you had a good first date wouldn’t you at least ask “When can I see you again?”

There you go, ten things I hate about interviewing you. Most of these would seem to come down to common sense but as it turns out common sense is not as common as you might think.

Later this week I’ll write a post that summarizes the ten things I hate about interviewers.