There’s no doubt about it: job interviews are stressful. I can’t think of a single person I’ve ever met who doesn’t experience at least some level of stress when preparing to interview for a new position. Unfortunately, this is one of those necessary stress activities for many people… most of us need jobs, after all.
When faced with an upcoming job interview, the best thing you can do is prepare. In your preparation, practice going through the interview. Have a friend help you out, if possible, by playing the role of the interviewer. Doing this can be highly beneficial and make you feel more comfortable when interview day arrives.
Also, be aware of certain pitfalls which may make you look unprofessional and cost you an opportunity. The following are ten mistakes to avoid:
1. Arriving late
Yes, it’s obvious, but don’t do it. A good rule of thumb is to arrive at your interview (or log on to your Skype, if it’s a video interview) about five to ten minutes early. If you’re exactly on time down to the minute, some employers may still see this as borderline late. If you have to navigate traffic on your way to your interview, or if it’s in a part of town you’ve never been to before, leave extra early to avoid surprises.
That said, don’t walk into your interview too early, either. Ten minutes is great, but longer than that may inconvenience your interviewer and their staff. If you get to your interview too early, you may wish to go over notes in your car or take a walk to clear your head.
2. Dressing too casually
You don’t need to go overboard, but you should dress like you care. While some types of jobs may be fine with completely casual dress for interviews, most employers appreciate candidates taking the time to make themselves look well kept and professional. Make sure to shower and wear well-fitting clothes that are clean and wrinkle-free. No sneakers.
3. Not doing your research
You don’t want to walk into a job interview knowing nothing about the company you are trying to work for. Make sure to do some heavy Googling before your interview and learn all that you can. If it’s a smaller company, ask around or drop by for a visit (depending on the industry).
Try to learn all you can about the specifics of the position you are interviewing for, as well. The more details you understand, the better you will be able to demonstrate why you’re the best choice for the position.
4. Not asking questions
During most job interviews, there comes a point when the candidate is asked if they have any questions. The worst thing you can say when you are asked this is “no.” Come prepared with several well-thought-out questions. Include questions about details of your future responsibilities, the company’s history and culture, etc.
5. Not making eye contact
Don’t stare your interviewer down, but don’t avoid eye contact, either. If you are constantly looking at your hands or the floor for your entire interview, you will project a lack of confidence. Simply looking your interviewer in the eye, nodding and demonstrating an understanding of what is being explained goes far. It’s understandable to be nervous, but overcome the urge to look down.
This is a nervous habit for many people, and it can be a definite negative in conversation. If you have a tendency to interrupt, you’re going to have to train yourself to slow down. When practicing for your interview, make sure to wait one full second after your interviewer is finished talking to begin your answer. It may take some time to break this habit, but if you want to succeed professionally, it’s important to break it.
7. Extreme fidgeting
Another common habit that may harm a serious candidate: fidgeting. The whole reason our planet is awash with fidget spinners today. While nearly everyone moves a bit during conversation, some people go a bit crazy with the fidgeting when they’re nervous. If this is you, try doing some intense exercise the morning of your interview. This may help expend some of your nervous energy so that you’re able to avoid tapping your foot during your interview. Also, take slow, deep breaths. Keep doing that.
8. Seeming desperate
Even if you really need this job and are willing to take any offer they give, don’t let your interviewer know that. If your interviewer senses (or is explicitly told of) your desperation, it can make them uncomfortable, and it may result in them giving you a lower offer if they do decide to give you the job. Show your enthusiasm, but don’t overdo it.
9. Getting too personal
Unless your interviewer is your best friend, avoid asking personal questions, or talking about very personal topics. Keep it professional and light. Also, if your interviewer asks you personal questions that make you uncomfortable, that’s a big red flag that you probably don’t want to be working for that company.
10. Forgetting your resume
Always bring a copy of your resume with you to an interview. Do this even if you already mailed, dropped off or emailed your resume to the company. Sometimes things get lost or misplaced, and your interviewer will appreciate you having a copy on hand if this happens.
Did I miss anything? What other job interview mistakes have you seen in your line of work?
— Tanya Mead