I'm looking for:

9 Interview Mistakes That’ll Haunt You

If you’ve made it past the resume selection phase and you’re called in for an interview, that doesn’t mean it’s in the bag. An interview only means that you’ve made it to the next step in the hiring process. The good news is that you now have a chance to speak for yourself and convince the hiring manager that you’re the best person for the job. The bad news is you can’t get by on your wit and charm alone. If you want to seal the deal, you’re going to have to do a little prep work and avoid the following missteps that could cost you the job. 

Knowing Nothing About The Company 

With all the devices we have access to and the wealth of information at our fingertips, an eye-raising number of candidates still show up to interviews without knowing anything about the company, let alone the position they’re interviewing for. The fact is there are far too many resources readily available for you to be unprepared, so do yourself a favor and take the time to prepare for the interview. 

Spend a little time pre-gaming and find out everything you can about the company; research their history, their mission statement, and the products and services they offer. Moreover, you should know as much as you can about the position you’re applying for. Figure out why you’re interested in said job ahead of time, and be prepared to share that with the interviewer. 

Talking Too Much 

While people often try to mask their nervousness by talking, this is a mistake during an interview. You’ll want to talk enough to sell yourself, you don’t want to hijack the interview and talk over the interviewer. Also, if you’re talking, you’re not listening, which might not sit well with your interviewer.

And finally, if you’re constantly talking, you may miss an important signal from your interviewer. Remember that people are more open and talkative when they like you. When you give your interviewer the space to talk you’ll likely have a better idea of how the interview is going.

Dressing Inappropriately 

Over the last year and a half, dress codes everywhere have taken a hit. But regardless of what a company’s day-to-day dress code policy is, whether it’s business attire, business casual, or flip flop Fridays, you should still walk into the interview dressed to impress in your best professional attire. And, yes, this rule applies to virtual interviews as well.

Bashing Your Current Or Former Employers

At some point during your interview, you can (and should) expect your interviewer to inquire about why you’re leaving your current job. This type of question helps them get a sense of who you are, what you’re looking for, and whether any of that aligns with their organization and the current job opening.

When this question inevitably comes up, your best bet is, to be honest, but keep it classy. 

If you’re leaving because you feel that you’ve gotten everything you can from the job and now it’s time to move on, just say so. However, if you’re leaving because your boss can’t manage their way out of a paper bag, answer the question, but do your best to temper your response. In other words, find the most diplomatic way to get your point across without bashing the company. 

Not Asking Questions 

If you’ve been in the hot seat two times or two hundred times, there’s one part of the interview that you know is coming. Your interviewer will signal that the interview is coming to a close, and they will ask if you have any questions. 

Showing up to an interview without a set of prepared questions is never a good idea. For starters, it shows a lack of interest on your part. Moreover, it could even be perceived as laziness and a clear sign to the interviewer that you didn’t bother doing any research (see mistake #1 above). 

So, before you walk into an interview, be sure to prepare some specific questions about the company or the position ahead of time. If your interviewer happens to answer your questions at some point during the interview, the following questions can be used in a pinch: 

  • What would you change in the company?
  • Do you have any concerns about my background? 
  • What makes someone successful in this role?
  • Can you tell me a little about the company culture? 
  • Who fits in best in this culture? 

Not Having An Elevator Pitch Ready 

Phrases like “Tell me a little about yourself” or “Before we dive in, we’d like to know a little more about you,” almost always come up during an interview. In this case, your interviewer isn’t interested in your family vacation plans and your 2.5 kids; they are looking for your elevator pitch, and not preparing one ahead of time is another big mistake.

Your elevator pitch is a brief statement that speaks to your professional experience, your strengths, and your future goals. When crafting your elevator pitch: 

  • Keep it short and to the point 
  • Don’t tailor it to the job for which you’re interviewing (they’re looking for broad strokes about your aptitude and experience) 
  • Include professional highlights only

And a final but important point on elevator pitches: Do not use the term “we.” Most candidates think that referencing the collective “we” when talking about their past employment shows the interviewer that they’re a team player. Sure it does, but in this case, the spotlight is on you, not your old team. You’re interviewing for a job, so it’s ok to talk yourself up. 

Failing To Show Why You’re The Best Person For The Job

The whole reason behind an interview is to land the job, so it’s up to you to show the interviewer that you’re the best candidate for the position. To that end, be sure to listen carefully and only offer clear and succinct answers. Moreover, where applicable, offer answers that clearly show why you’re the best person for the role. 

Showing Up Too Late Or Too Early 

Everyone knows that being late for an interview is probably one of the worst things you can do, but arriving too early is no better. Either way, it shows poor time management on your part, and it also shows a lack of respect for the interviewer’s time. 

Sounding Off On Social Media Or Leaving Your Accounts “Open”

When you’re actively looking for employment, it might be best to take a look through your social media accounts and either clean them up or lock them down. It’s 2021, and you can be reasonably certain that HR departments everywhere are using every tool they have at their disposal to fill vacancies. And more often than not, they will look at candidates’ digital footprint and social media accounts with an eagle eye. 

In addition to buttoning up your social media accounts, you might want to think twice before tweeting about your interviewer’s ugly tie post-interview. If you put it out there for the world to see, you can’t be upset when it backfires, and your interviewer sees it too.  

Photo Credit: Canva

| |