Common Mistakes Made in an Interview

Catherine Tabuena
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Whether it’s for your first job or an internal promotion, job interviews will always be a nerve-racking experience. Unless you’re one of the lucky referred candidates, everything you do is being judged. There’s a lot of pressure to perform well since the first moments of an interview matter the most. To ace the interview, avoid these most common job interview mistakes.

·         You arrive late. Since hiring managers often have several interviews scheduled back to back, it is important not to be late, it can cut your job interview short, or you’re interrupting the schedules of several people.

·         You arrive too early. On the flip side, hiring managers also don’t like it when you arrive too early. It disrupts their schedule and stresses them out. Respect your potential future employer’s time by arriving at least 10 minutes early to get through any security and check in with the reception.

·         You give textbook responses. Recruiters don’t want to hear cliched statements like “I’m a hard worker” or “I’m a team player.” It’s essential to show your personality in an interview. If you say something they haven’t heard before, they’ll be more likely to remember you. While it’s best to make a strong, lasting impression, don’t lie for the sake of impressing. Always be honest about your skills and strengths and give examples. 

·         You have not dressed appropriately. Don’t walk in an interview looking like a slob. Dress the part. It’s important to carefully select an outfit appropriate for the corporate culture and adhere to or dress one step above their dress code. To get a sense of their culture and dress code, check the company’s website, career pages, and social media accounts for photos of employees and events. If you have a few minutes to spare, go to the bathroom to freshen up before you arrive. Look in the mirror, touch up your make-up, brush your hair, check your teeth, check for bad breath, and remove any lint or fuzz from your shirt to make a good first impression on the hiring manager.

·         You appear uninterested. You’re unlikely to persuade a hiring manager to hire you if you display low energy and lack a general enthusiasm for the company. Simple body language and nonverbal cues that show a lack of interest such as a lack of eye contact, slumping shoulders, slowness to respond to questions, and rarely or never smiling during the interview tell the interviewer you don’t care.

·         You focus too much on yourself. The author Robert Greene cautions us: “When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.” This advice also applies to job interviews. Avoid boring the interviewer with unnecessary and irrelevant information about yourself. Keep your answers brief, to-the-point, and laser-focused on answering the question.

·         You walk in unprepared. This is probably the biggest pet peeve for many employers. Hiring managers aren’t just looking for likable candidates; They also want to hire people with some baseline knowledge of the company. You’ll look unprepared if you do not research the company thoroughly beforehand. It’s easy to find a company’s background information, including history, locations, divisions, and mission statement on its website. Don’t forget to check the company’s social media pages- LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for additional information.

·         You don’t have any questions. To an employer, having no questions equates to no interest. Remember, the questions you ask often reveal the way you think and what is important to you. When you don’t have any questions prepared, it signals that you don’t care, aren’t curious, or haven’t done your research. If you can’t think of any questions, throw out the good ol’ standby questions:

1. “What’s the company culture like?” 

2. "How long have you been with the company?”

3. “What do you like best about working here?”

·         You’re showing negativity. You may have had a bad haircut, experienced road rage, or got dumped by your girlfriend this morning- whatever the reason, drop the anger before the interview. Hiring managers want to hire someone who displays professionalism, good judgment, and ethics. Keep your answers classy and professional. Never badmouth previous employers and coworkers, no matter how tempting it might be. HR professional Patty Malenfat says that employers are wary of hiring highly emotional people because they don’t want to work with someone who seems volatile or angry.

·         You forget to follow up. Most people overlook this basic rule of job interviewing: Follow up within 24 hours. You should email and thank the interviewer for their time and emphasize your interest in the position. Failure to do so might make them think you’re not interested, or they may forget about you. Don’t be too aggressive in the follow up. Never send multiple emails or calls to an interviewer. Send one follow-up email and then move on. Anything more is probably too much.

 Nailing the first interview matters so owning up to and figuring out how to avoid these common job interview mistakes can make all the difference in your job search.


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  • Carl P.
    Carl P.

    A lot of good advice here. I was reminded by a friend to send a follow up email and I'm glad I did, even though I didn't get the job.

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