Resumes and Interviews Gone Wrong

I’ve had some colorful interviews lately. It brought to mind a lot of DON’Ts in Interviews and Resumes. I capitalize DON’T because everyone should know these basic rules.

Resume DON’Ts:

  • DON’T make vague statements such as “worked with various technologies” or “used full AJAX functionality”.
  • DON’T write in paragraphs. Write short bullet points without flowery words.
  • DON’T cram your resume onto one page. Technical resumes can be as long as three or four pages. When you use liberal line spacing and concise bullet points, your resume should have plenty of whitespace. You don’t want it to look like a set of long paragraphs.
  • DON’T use flowery words in an “Objective” section at the top. I don’t want to know how you plan to “add value” or “apply your passion”. Tell me what position you are looking for. For example, “Web development using Ruby, HTML, JavaScript and CSS”, “Network Administration on Windows or Unix networks” or “Graphic design in web and print”. Or leave it off your resume and put it in your cover letter.

Interview DON’Ts:

  • DON’T wear distracting clothing. I don’t care much what you wear to work, but in an interview, I want to focus on your skills and experience, not your shoes and jacket. Wear simple business casual.
  • DON’T make ridiculous generalizations. Don’t tell me that hacking is dead or that bitwise operators are unnecessary.
  • DON’T tell me about unrelated inventions. I don’t care if you are Thomas Edison; I need a coder. Reminds me of Sean Spencer on Psych telling everyone about his pillow comb invention that reduces bed head.
  • DON’T pretend like you know something. I’d rather hear you say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” than listen to an incoherent rant that skirts around the issue.
  • DON’T get flustered when you have no experience in a particular area. The ideal candidate doesn’t need to know or have experience with everything.
  • DON’T worry about finding the “right” answer. I want to hear you share your technical knowledge and experience. I’m not testing to see if you hold the same opinions as I do.