Job interviews are daunting enough as they are. It’s inevitable for you to make mistakes at some point during the conversation. Many interview bloopers are quite acceptable and make a good story for laughs, whether it’s out of nervousness or receiving an unexpected question that throws you off guard. However, there are a handful of interview mistakes that are too serious to shrug off.
These are the kinds of mistakes that you should be mindful of at all times so that you can avoid them entirely as much as possible and ensure job interview success.
Top 10 Most Common Mistakes in a Job Interview
1. Knowing nothing about your potential employer
Before you think of applying, you should at least do a brief scan of the details about the company. When your application is accepted, and you’re invited for an interview, you should do your best to learn a lot more. If possible, find out who your interviewer will be—their basic personal information, as well as their position in the company.
Doing ample research before stepping into the interview room prevents you from asking questions that would appear too obvious or stupid to the interviewer. Not knowing anything at all about the prospective job and the company only shows that you are careless and uninterested in the company or the position. It shows that you are simply applying for the sake of getting a job and a salary, without any mind as to whether you’ll be passionate enough to do your best.
2. Showing up late
Probably the first and most outright embarrassment you can inflict on yourself during an interview is arriving late. This mistake alone can set a bad tone to the ambiance of the conversation, especially if you’re late by a lot. It is so grave that it can alter the course of the interview enough to cost you the opportunity of being hired.
Being late for an interview stirs up a lot of bad impressions to the interviewer. It may make them feel that you’re not eager enough to take on the opportunity. It will also show them how little you value their time. Above all else, it displays that you are likely irresponsible and insensitive.
Knowing this, you should make sure never to arrive late for a job interview. To ensure this, prepare all your materials and outfit for at least a day ahead so you’re not scrambling in your closet. Set an alarm that allows you ample time to prepare and drive to the venue. This will depend on the distance between your place and the interview site.
3. Wearing the wrong outfit
Looking too casual may not be the best thing to do when attending an interview. Consider anything too revealing or too bold as unprofessional and, therefore, not appropriate for an interview. You will want to stand out among a group of interviewees, but you wouldn’t want to do so badly.
Proper formal business attire is always the standard, especially if you are applying for a position where business attire is the expected daily outfit. If you perceive that going in a full suit is too stiff for the situation, the most you can stray off to is a business casual get-up. This is usually the practice for creative positions like designers and artists. No matter what you are applying for, make sure that your external appearance is respectable and professional.
Different companies require different dress codes. Your interview attire is totally dependent on the company culture and workplace. So it is crucial that you do your homework first and research the company to determine the dress code, so you will know what to wear to an interview. Dress and choose colors that are simple, traditional, and understated.
4. Twiddling with your phone
Much like a formal dinner, or any important conversation, you should not touch your phone during an interview at all costs. Sneaking glances at your phone during an interview is very impolite. It signals the interviewer that you would rather be on your phone than engaging in a discourse with them.
Before you step into the interview room, you don’t necessarily have to turn your phone off. Simply place it in silent mode. If you can, divert all incoming calls to voicemail so that you can listen to them later on after the interview if you miss any important calls. Place your phone safely in your pocket, suitcase, or bag where it is not visible and resist the urge to take it out until you make it out of the interview room.
5. Getting too comfortable
Displaying a friendly demeanor is good during job interviews. But one of the cringiest job interview mistakes is getting too personal and being too comfortable with the interviewer. Telling too many jokes, becoming overly-emotional, or displaying anger should be reserved for conversations among close friends. If you act this way during an interview, the hiring manager will be put off by your demeanor, and you’ll appear unprofessional.
The best way to carry yourself is how you normally would in formal situations. Think of impressing the interviewer with remarkable substance instead of strong behavior. Act in an optimistic but neutral manner, as if you’re trying to win new business acquaintances cautiously.
6. Being rude
This behavior is probably an extension of getting too comfortable with the interviewer. However, you’re not likely to be rude on purpose with the hiring manager himself. This major job interview mistake usually occurs before or after the interview when you encounter other employees in the establishment who are not directly involved in your interview.
These people include the receptionist, guard, parking attendant, and even the janitor you might encounter in the waiting room. While you’re not obliged to chat with everyone you come across in the building, have a ready greeting for anyone you come face to face with, or at least dole out a smile and a curt nod to someone who makes eye contact with you as you walk through the hallways. Who knows, they might be asked for important feedback regarding your behavior while you were on the premises.
Statistically, six out of ten people make at least one lie within ten minutes of a conversation. That gives you a 40% chance to stay true for every ten minutes of your job interview. Lying is never a good idea. This is especially true in the job application process. Putting lies in your resume, or telling lies during an interview could spell disaster sooner or later. It will either backfire immediately if you can’t keep up the web of pretense or later when your employer discovers your secret with some background research or even by mere observation.
Stick to the truth as much as possible. If you think the truth is not that appealing, try to work a way of saying it as pleasantly and as sincerely as you can. If it is a mistake or a weakness, turn it into your favor by charging it as a learning experience that you can use later on.
8. Badmouthing previous employers
You might have ended your previous job on a bad note, but you don’t have to express your disgust against your old boss to your potential new manager. Doing so will put the interviewer on guard since it means that you might also trash-talk him or her if you are hired, and the job doesn’t work out for you in the end.
If you have grievances against your past employers, it is best to keep it to yourself unless you are asked for any negative experience with your old job. If the interviewer prods you, you may express your experiences as disappointments that you’ve learned from without uttering any harsh words. You can do this by being objective and keeping your feelings out of your assessment. You can also express gratitude towards your old employer despite having to terminate your old relationship.
9. Not paying attention
You need to be well-rested, prepared, and alert during the interview. This will prevent you from zoning out while the interviewer is speaking with you. If you missed an interview question because you are too distracted, this would leave a bad impression on the interviewer.
If you feel that your focus is starting to slip away, make an effort to realign your focus and stay engaged. Here are some tips to keep yourself on your toes during an interview and land the job that you want.
First, before the interview day, you need to prepare everything both, physically and mentally. This includes having an adequate sleep, preparing your attire, familiarizing yourself with the organization, and reviewing notes a day before the interview.
On the day of the interview, make sure that you don’t skip a meal and drink enough water before the interview. Hunger and thirst will send signals in your body that will get you distracted. Arriving early before the interview also increases your confidence.
Last and most importantly, focus on being present during the entire interview by engaging the interviewer in conversation.
10. Forgetting the interview is a two-way street
Oftentimes, candidates prepare too much to answer the interview questions that they also neglect to prepare questions for the interviewer. As an applicant, you are required to prepare strong sets of well-thought questions. Besides, you also need to determine if the job or the company is a good fit for you.
By asking the appropriate questions, it will demonstrate that you are serious about the job and prepared for the interview. The answers you will obtain from your questions whether you want to for the company. Here are some questions that you can ask the interviewer:
- Have I answered all your inquiries?
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?
- What are the essential qualities that will help one excel in the role?
- What are the expectations for the role in the first month, the sixth month, and the first year?
- What is the most challenging part of the job?
- How long did the last hired person for the role hold the position? How did the role turnover generally look like?
- How will you describe the company culture?
- What do you love the most about working here?
- How do you see your biggest competitors? Why are you better?
- Who are the people I’m going to work with, and who am I directly reporting to?
- Is there an opportunity to grow professionally and move up the ladder?
- Is there anything we’ve discussed that makes you question whether I am perfect for the role?
- What are the succeeding steps after the interview?
To find out the reasons why you can ask these questions to the interviewer, read our article “13 Perfect Questions to Ask In Your Interview.”
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