Most Common Interview Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Interviews can be nerve-racking. You are seated across a person whose sole purpose is to judge you and you must do your best to impress them. This gets increasingly difficult when interviewing for a high stakes position. It is hard enough to get an interview as it is, but when you do, you want to avoid these common mistakes so that you can knock it out of the park.  

  1. Arriving Late (Or Too Early)

This one may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many job seekers make this mistake. Arriving on time for interviews is crucial. Interviewers often have multiple interviews lined up and by showing up late, you tell them that you do not value their time. It also indicates that you will most likely be late for the job as well. Showing up late cuts into your interview time and shows a lack of preparation on your part.

On the other hand, it is never a good idea to show up more than 10 minutes before your interview. This gives you enough time to go through any security checks or clearances required. The interviewer has a specific time set aside for you for a reason and by arriving too early, you can irritate the hiring manager. If you do arrive earlier, wait in your car or walk around before heading into the building.

  1. Appearing Unpolished

You should always look professional and polished when interviewing for a job, no matter what the company. You can get a sense of the company’s dress code from their website or social media profiles and you should dress accordingly. Whether the dress code is professional or business casual, your clothes should be clean and free of wrinkles & stains.

Get up early on the day of your interview so that you have enough time to get ready. Shower and look clean & put-together; do not overdo it with makeup or perfume. You want to put your best foot forward and show the employer that you care and your appearance is the first impression you make.

  1. Appearing Uninterested

You should appear passionate and excited about the job you are applying for. Slouching shoulders, lack of eye contact, playing on your phone or fiddling with your thumbs all signal to the interviewer that you do not really care about the position and you will not get the job. You do not want to be jumping up & down or be over-enthusiastic either, but it is crucial to look interested.

To do this, you must focus on your body language. Remember to smile, maintain eye contact and have your phone turned off. Watch your posture and be enthusiastic when answering questions. An easy way to do this is to use your hands when explaining; it will show you are passionate and energetic about your answers. Research the company beforehand so that they can see you care.

  1. Not Paying Attention

It is easy to zone out or get sidetracked while someone is talking about something important. You might miss the question being asked, or worse, the interviewer may notice that you are not paying attention and therefore think you are uninterested. If you cannot focus on an interview, the employer may think you will not be able to focus on the job either.

Make an active effort to listen effectively. Ensure that you are well-rested and alert on the day of your interview. Be prepared so that you are not panicking, trying to come up with an answer and end up not listening to the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, lean slightly forward, clear your mind and focus on listening.

  1. Being Unprepared

You do not have to be an expert on the company when going in for an interview, but it is essential to research the role and overall company culture. This means knowing what your duties & responsibilities would be, what the company’s mission, vision & objectives are and what the company’s major products & services are. All this information can easily be found on the job posting, company website and social media pages. Print this information off and review it before going in for the interview, so it is fresh in your mind.

Also, have answers prepared for the most common interview questions. You can find tons of lists that show you what questions are most likely to be asked, so prepare your answers in advance and rehearse them so you are ready for the interview. Sprinkle in your knowledge of the company and the role in your responses to show the employer why you would be a good fit.

  1. Not Asking Questions

Always have a few questions prepared before the interview to show your interest in the position. Ask for details about the job, for example, “what does an average day look like?” or “what is the key to success in this job?” Avoid asking questions about salary, promotions or vacation because it seems you are only interested in the benefits. You can ask about their management style, coworkers or work environment. Show the interviewer that you care about the job enough to know more.

  1. Not Following Up

You might breathe a sigh of relief once the interview is over, thinking that you have done your part and now all you have to do is wait for the job offer, but unfortunately, there is still one crucial step to be done. You have to follow-up! Whether it be by phone or email, it is essential to follow-up with the interviewer within 24 hours after the interview to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position.

This helps you stand out from the crowd of interviewees that the hiring manager most likely just went through and shows them you are serious about the position. Remember not to follow up repeatedly, be patient and respect their time.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Before an interview, have someone run through common interview questions with you and critique your answers and overall body language to prepare for anything the interviewer may throw at you. If you would like some more professional help, contact one of our HR consultants to schedule some interview coaching!

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