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25 Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

You’ve had a number of interviews and despite the nerves, you think you aced them giving answers to the questions asked, but you’ve not heard back from a single employer, even for a little feedback. You could be guilty of committing a few of these deadly interview blunders without even knowing it.

To spare you deliberating over your future success, here are some of the most common mistakes job seekers make in interviews and how you can avoid them.

1. Letting Nerves Get the Best of You

Your heart is pounding, palms sweating, your mouth is going dry, and you begin to question if you are even good enough for the job, or what happens if they don’t like you? When you go to answer your first question a little squeak comes out of your mouth (I bet you’ve never heard yourself make that sound before) and you fumble your words not being able to string a sentence together.Start thinking of an interview as a casual chat with an interesting person in your ideal profession, this will instantly change your mindset and will reduce your panic. Before you walk into the room inhale for six seconds and exhale for 10, do this three times in order to get oxygen to your brain which will allow you to think more clearly.

2. Arriving Too Late/Early

Most articles on the Internet dedicated to job interview etiquette warn candidates to arrive for their interview about 10 minutes before it is scheduled to start. Arriving even a few minutes late could have disastrous consequences. But, turning up too early is just as bad. If you show up 45 minutes before your interview, you might make the hiring manager feel guilty that they’re keeping you waiting and could end up dropping their work to see you. It’s frustrating, and it’s incredibly rude of you.

3. Not Remembering Names

You’re at the reception and you’re about to introduce yourself but your mind has gone blank and you can’t remember your interviewer’s name – how cringy! Make sure you memorize the name of your interviewer or anyone that comes to meet you during your interview. You could also end it on a personal note by saying something like “it was great to meet you, John”.

4. Taking a Drink with You

You’ve stopped at a local Starbucks before your interview to give yourself a little caffeine boost, but you haven’t quite finished and are wondering whether to take it to the interview with you? Bad idea! Not only is it unprofessional to enter with a drink in hand, but during your interview, you should be focused on the process. What’s worse; if you’re a klutz, you’ll probably spill the half-filled cup all over your employer – awkward!

5. Dressing Inappropriately

Dressing the part will not only boost your confidence but will make you feel comfortable throughout your interview. Know how formal or casual to dress based on the industry and company style. If you want to dress for interview success, make sure you research what’s appropriate for that industry or get the inside scoop from a current employee.

6. Not Shaking the Interviewers Hand

First impressions are vital in an interview, from the moment you walk into the building until the moment you exit. Most often, a secretary will escort you into the meeting room where you will wait for your interviewer. Many people fail to stand when the interviewer walks into the room to shake their hand which can come across as disrespectful. Make a habit of standing and shaking someone’s hand when you meet them for the first time so it becomes second nature to you.

7. Failing to Make Eye Contact

Avoiding eye contact makes it appear that you’re trying to hide something, and interviewers will then automatically distrust you. In a 2014 Cornell University study, 63 participants were shown one of two versions of a Trix cereal box (the rabbit on the box looked straight at the viewer in one version, and looked down in the other), and found that brand trust was 16% higher when the rabbit made eye contact. Making eye contact is consequently crucial if you want to build trust and form a connection with the person sitting opposite you. You’ll convey confidence (a trait most interviewers find very impressive) and you’ll also appear to be genuinely interested in the conversation and, therefore, the job.

8. Having Bad Posture

Body language says a lot about how we are feeling, and being aware of your posture is crucial. Crossing your arms and fidgeting can imply that you are nervous and lack confidence. Reclining might tell the employer that you are bored or cocky and general bad posture can give the impression that you are lazy or disrespectful. When you next enter an interview room, relax against the back of your chair. Make sure your feet are firmly fixed to the floor and engage your core. Good practice is to sit upright at home and whilst driving to see how long you can hold a comfortable position without too much shifting around.

9. You Pause for a Long Time

Taking some time to gather your thoughts is often a good idea, but if it takes you longer than 10 seconds to start talking, you’ve passed the point of being comfortable. Taking too long to answer will show your nerves and may indicate that you aren’t able to work under presser. Even if you don’t have a solid answer, begin discussing points that relate to the question. Don’t forget that you were invited to the interview because you have the skills to get the job. Slow your speech (to a natural pace) so that you have a few seconds to consider your thoughts before you articulate them.

10. Interrupting the Interviewer

You’re really eager and excited to show your skills and explain why you have the relevant knowledge for the job, but, you are cutting off the interviewer before he has the chance to get the question out. This can come across as rude as well as being incapable of listening (not something a manager will admire in a candidate). Make sure you are really, actively listening to each question, wait for your interviewer to finish and allow yourself five seconds to give the correct answer.

11. Yawning

It doesn’t matter if you had a sleepless night due to your excitement and nervousness for your interview. If you yawn it can show that you’re tired and lack time management skills or that you are simply not interested in being there. To ensure you fight the yawning bug, do some meditation and relaxation to help you get a full night of sleep. Have some caffeine before the interview and do a few stretches. Anything that will get your blood flowing will wake you up and help with your response time to questions.

12. Rambling

You are a person of many words that can sell ice to Eskimos, but chances are your interviewer will see right through your mask. Rambling can make the interviewer uncomfortable and bored, and will show your inability to interact with others (not someone that will popular amongst the office). Make sure you always have a point to what you are saying and don’t drag it on. Your answers should be kept to a maximum length of two minutes.

13. Not Speaking Clearly

Whether you are shy or just a quiet talker; mumbling or tripping over your words will make you look anxious, hesitant and timid. It won’t leave a lasting impression and the interviewers will wonder what you can actually bring to the table. Make sure you are using slow, steady speech patterns and project your voice (if you lean on the soft side) in order for your employers to see that you are keen and confident.

14. Your Phone Rings During the Interview

OMG! You forgot to put your phone on mute and it’s ringing during your interview. You want the ground to open up and swallow you as you’re dying from embarrassment. Your interviewer may think that you are not taking this opportunity seriously. To avoid this awkward situation, turn your phone off completely before your interview. In the case that you have to leave it on for an emergency, let the interviewer know before he begins.

15. Putting on a Front

As you walk into the interview room you transform into a whole new persona, you act as if you’re the person who invented the job rather than the person with the skills to match the job description. Employers can see right through fakeness which is really off-putting. Always be yourself, don’t try to be over-chirpy or over-friendly, just act respectable and make your passion for the industry known.

16. Badmouthing Your Boss

Okay, your current boss is, indeed, a snake, who blocked your path to a promotion because she fears that you will out-do her, but you might want to keep that to yourself when the interviewer asks you why you’re leaving your current position. No matter how true it all is, badmouthing her in an interview for another job will only harm your career prospects. After all, if you’re going to talk sh*t about an old boss to a potential employer, what’s to say you won’t do the same about them when the going gets tough?

17. Failing to Smile

Ditch the resting b*tch face and put a smile on your face, whether it will cost you a wrinkle or two. Failing to smile will show potential employers that you are not friendly and lack personality. Interviewers like smiley, cheerful candidates that can spread a positive vibe amongst the rest of their team.

18. Swearing

So you’re known to be a bit of a potty mouth that likes to express themselves by swearing. If you happen to let a swear-word slip in an interview you can kiss your chance at bagging the job goodbye. Most managers find swearing disrespectful and will not want to have a bad-mouthed employee talking to their customers.

19. Not Being Prepared

With quick and easy access to the Internet at your fingertips, you really have no excuse for not taking a brief look at the company’s “About Us” page on their website. It will only take a few minutes of your precious time and, equipped with that knowledge; you’ll be able to impress the hiring manager with a flawless and straightforward answer to “What do you know about our company?” Preparation is key and will make you feel more confident when answering all the weird and wonderful questions you may be asked. A good trick is practising an interview scenario with someone in your household.

20. Lying

Nobody likes a liar – especially one who lies ever so bluntly to people’s faces. While a lot of us tend to tell a little white lie here or there to make ourselves look better or more likeable, openly and so obviously lying to an interviewer is a surefire way to kill any chances you had of being offered the job. Any discrepancies between what you tell an interviewer and what they’ve read on your CV, or what your references had to say will only paint you in a bad light. Instead, be completely honest in your answers (and your CV, for that matter), because a seemingly small lie can have massive repercussions for you and a potential job offer.

21. Setting Yourself to Fail on Social Media

Social media is a part of the process that companies use to check out prospective employees; if they don’t like what they see, your interview may be doomed. Ensure that you’re not committing any social media mistakes, and that your online accounts are updated and are a good representation of what you want your employers to know about you.

22. Apologising (a Lot)

Of course, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t apologize to the interviewer if you accidentally kick him under the table. And you should be very sorry for arriving to the interview even a few minutes late. But, there is such a thing as over-apologising. If you end up constantly apologizing for your answers or lack of, not only do you become incredibly annoying but you also present yourself as someone who lacks confidence.

23. Flirting

Your interview is not another speed-date, and even if your interviewer does look like Channing Tatum, or Megan Fox you must remember that you are there to be employed. So quit the flirting and focus on the questions you are being asked rather than what the manager looks like.

24. Giving Stock Answers

A large part of preparing for a job interview is rehearsing a variety of tricky questions that may come up in the interview. But, make sure that you don’t use stock answers. Interviewers have heard the same things over and over (and over) again. They want unique and out-of-the-box answers that will impress them and make them want to hire you on the spot. Think of real-life situations that you’ve experienced in your professional (and even personal) life, and draw inspiration from there to deliver the best answers possible.

25. Being Arrogant

It’s great to show that you’re confident in an interview, but don’t let that tip over into arrogance. Listen carefully to your interviewer, don’t interrupt and don’t attempt too many jokes. You don’t want to say anything that could cause offence and will destroy your chance of employment.

26. Asking the Wrong Questions (Or Not Ask Any at All)

This is the most crucial part of the interview; it’s your chance to find out more about the role and decide if it is the right fit for you. You can discover what advancement opportunities there are and if the department is growing. However, asking the wrong question like “what will my salary be?” can ruin the image you have spent the last 30 minutes building. Even if the interviewer covers everything you wanted to know, make sure you have at least a couple of questions as backup. Oftentimes, not having any questions to ask at the end of your interview can be a deal breaker as it shows disinterest in the position. And a candidate who isn’t interested in the job he’s interviewing for is hardly going to get it.

Being aware of the main errors jobseekers are guilty of committing during interviews can help you breeze through your next one and bag yourself your dream job.

If you’ve made other crucial interview mistakes that we haven’t mentioned above leave a comment in the section below…

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