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MSA Search BlogInsights from over 30 years of Healthcare Executive Search

What Not to Do When Interviewing for a Job

By Brad Veal, Senior Consultant, Gallagher MSA Search

From David Letterman to Buzzfeed, Top 10 lists are ingrained in our popular culture.  If you throw out click bait like “Top 25 BBQ Restaurants” to “Worst Movies of All-Time,” you’ve got me hooked, which possibly explains why our I.T. guy is always mad at me.  With two decades in executive search, I have accumulated a lot of candidate stories, most of which are positive experience, but there are a few that just make you shake your head and laugh (or cry).  With that, I thought we’d take a more light-hearted approach to this month’s blog:

Top 10 Things to Avoid When Interviewing for a Job   

10.  Do Not Treat the Interview Trip Like a College Spring Break – no, it’s not OK to ring up a $200 dinner bill when you are traveling alone.  I realize that the 24 oz. filet and top shelf scotch are delicious, and a third drink is even better than two, but this is not the time or place.  Clients do review interview expenses. 

9.   Salary Discussions Are Not an Icebreaker – we all like money and want more of it, so compensation is certainly important, but any direct conversations around this subject with your potential employer are better suited to second interviews or benefit discussions the further you get into the process.  However, if you are working with a search firm, be honest with them, so they can navigate these waters with you.

8.   The Application and Background Check Forms are not the time for creative writing – if you are concerned that something will potentially be uncovered during this process, tell the truth, for it will come out at some point.  The farther into the process that it does, the more embarrassing it is for all involved.

7.   Divas are Fine in Show Business, but Not Healthcare – when nothing is quite right, from the car to menu to the hotel to the airline, and you require specialized boarding and background music for your Jack Russell, the term “high maintenance” inevitably makes its way to the decision-makers. 

6.   Ignore Support Personnel at your own peril – in many organizations, a “no” vote from the administrative assistants is enough to curtail a candidate.  Also, in smaller communities, your interview continues at the hotel and in local establishments.  The way you treat people both inside and outside the hospital will surely get noticed. 

5.  Positivity is Encouraged – the interview is not the time to air your grievances, a la Festivus.  Resist the urge to speak negatively of any colleagues or your employer, no matter how strong the temptation or how much they may deserve it. 

4.    Self-Initiative is Imperative – please take the time to proactively research the hospital, community, and interview team as best you can.  You can find amazing things from simple online searches, I never cease to be amazed by Google.  When you show up without having done even cursory research, you become a very easy candidate to bypass. 

3.    Arrive Armed with Questions – this is a major life decision, and any rational organization expects a candidate to take notes and ask multiple questions.  So when a candidate interviews without a pen and notepad, it is a definitely red flag. 

2.   Dress for the Part – we all love our jeans and sport coats, but avoid the urge to forego formality.  Unless specifically directed by the employer to dress down, expect to wear a dark suit with shined shoes.   No gaudy jewelry and keep the perfume/cologne to a minimum. 


1.  Do Not Fall Asleep During the Interview.  Yes, it happened, and shockingly no, the candidate didn’t get the job.  Please get a good night’s sleep before the interview.   

I hope you have been entertained by these and wish you best of luck in your upcoming interviews. 




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