Interviews can be nerve-wracking at the best of times. When seeking a new job, the pressure to present oneself as trustworthy, skilled, reliable, and reputable can quickly become overwhelming.
Although some degree of nervousness during an interview is common and acceptable, committing certain errors can hinder your chances of securing a great opportunity
Whether you’re meeting with an employer through a video conference or participating in a face-to-face interview, it is key to be prepared.
So here are some of the most common interview mistakes you should always avoid.
1. Not Being Prepared
Perhaps the biggest cardinal sin any candidate can commit is failing to prepare fully for the interview. Before you go into your interview, you should always research the company thoroughly.
Take a closer look at the job description and ensure you know exactly what your employer is looking for, so you can prepare answers to interview questions that showcase the right competencies and characteristics. Examining the job description carefully will also help you determine whether the role is right for you.
Study the company’s website to get a feel for their culture, vision, and values, and try to incorporate these factors into your answers too. Check the company’s social media channels, and ask your recruitment company for advice.
2. Dressing Inappropriately
Most interviewers won’t give you a specific dress code to follow before you turn up for the conversation, so it’s up to you to use your common sense. If you’re unsure whether the company is generally more “laid back” about dress codes, dress professionally.
You don’t necessarily need to wear a suit for every interview, but you should focus on professional dress. This applies not just to face-to-face interviews but video interviews too. Hiring managers still expect to see professionally-presented candidates when they’re interacting over video.
Presenting yourself appropriately through attire demonstrates to your interviewer that you take the interview process seriously. It is recommended to dress fully, avoiding casual wear such as sweat pants or pajama bottoms, to help you maintain a professional demeanor and prevent any potential embarrassing moments if the need arises to stand up during the interview
3. Talking About the Wrong Things
For a hiring manager, an interview is a chance to get to know candidates better, evaluate their competency for the role, and determine whether they will fit the company’s existing culture well. The things you discuss in your interview should highlight why you’re a good fit for the position and business.
With this in mind, make sure you don’t start talking about the wrong things. Don’t immediately jump into a discussion about salary (you can ask about this later), and try not to get too caught up in small talk at the beginning of the interview, either.
It is of utmost importance to avoid speaking negatively about former employers or colleagues during an interview. Doing so will only serve to detract from your professional image and make you appear petty.
When faced with interview questions such as “Describe a situation where you had difficulty working with your manager,” it is best to avoid blaming the issue solely on them. Instead, emphasize the communication challenges or other factors that contributed to the situation and how you worked to resolve the issue. This demonstrates your ability to take responsibility for your actions and effectively manage workplace relationships.
4. Not Being Punctual
A well-known quote says, ‘the way you do anything is the way you do everything.’
Therefore, an interview is the first opportunity to demonstrate how you ‘do’ things and what kind of employee you will be to your potential employer. Arriving late is never a good sign, as it shows you’re not well-organized, punctual, or good at time management – even if you have a valid excuse.
To make a positive impression, it is important to arrive punctually or ahead of schedule for your interview. Plan your route in advance and allow extra time to account for potential traffic disruptions. If you are scheduled for a pre-screening interview via video or a virtual conference, take the necessary steps to ensure your technology is functioning properly before the start of the interview.
As the interview begins, avoid disrupting the flow of the conversation by immediately reaching for your resume or other materials. Demonstrate your preparedness by having all necessary items within easy reach. In the unlikely event that you will be late, make sure to promptly inform the hiring manager by phone to keep them informed of the situation
5. Poor Body Language
Communication is up to 55% non-verbal. It’s not just what you say that your hiring manager will be paying attention to in an interview, but how you present yourself too. Slouching in your seat, constantly checking the time, or fidgeting could come across as you’re distracted or uninterested in the role.
Prior to the interview, take a moment to calm your nerves by taking a few deep breaths. During the interview, cultivate a professional demeanor by consistently maintaining eye contact, sitting upright, and projecting confidence. Keep your hands visible, either resting on the table or in your lap, and avoid checking your phone to demonstrate your full engagement. On a video call, make an effort to occasionally direct your gaze towards the camera, creating the illusion of direct eye contact with the interviewer
If you’re worried about what your body language might be saying about you, it could be helpful to practice some “interview scenarios” with friends before you go for the actual meeting.
6. Not Listening Properly
Employers want their employees to be passionate, engaged, and attentive. With this in mind, you should always show your hiring manager that you’re listening carefully to every word they say. If you feel your attention slipping during a particularly long interview, make an extra effort to stay engaged. Lean forward slightly, make eye contact, and focus.
If you have any uncertainty about the meaning of a question, don’t hesitate to clarify with the interviewer. This demonstrates your attention and interest in providing a comprehensive answer. A helpful technique for active listening is to restate the question in your response, for example, if asked about a leadership experience, you could say, ‘When it comes to demonstrating my leadership abilities, I believe a particularly noteworthy instance was…”
Avoiding these common interview pitfalls is crucial in presenting yourself as a confident, capable, and professional candidate. By staying mindful of these mistakes, you increase your chances of making a strong impression and securing the job opportunity. Best of luck!