You have two options with interview mistakes: discover them before your interview so you can correct them, or discover them after you’ve missed out on the job. You worked too hard to get this interview to mess up with a simple mistake.
Truth is, many of the most common interview mistakes have simple fixes once you recognize them.
1. Bungle the opportunity to sell yourself
Selling yourself demands finding the sweet spot: you must walk the line between humility and aggression.
If you tentatively sell yourself, you’ll miss a chance to distinguish yourself from the other applicants.
If you sell yourself too aggressively, you may seem arrogant and domineering.
Don’t assume the interviewer knows your specialties and your skills. Instead, mention your accomplishments and talents, and explain what you can offer to the hiring company. Contribute to the conversation without dominating it.
2. Arrive late
Arriving late to an interview can communicate many things, and none of them are good.
At best, you failed to manage your time well. At worst, you disrespected the interviewer’s time.
Furthermore, you’ll begin the interview on your heels. You’ll likely feel tense and rushed.
Avoid disaster by arriving 15 minutes early. Register with reception, complete any paperwork, and freshen up in the restroom.
Be aware, too, that arriving too early isn’t advised, either. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, sit in your car until it’s time to check in.
3. Fail to prepare
Many candidates mistakenly assume that practicing answers will cause them to sound robotic and unnatural.
On the contrary, failing to prepare could cause them to seem uncommitted and uninterested.
Practicing answers to anticipated questions will help you hone your responses. You’ll be better able to communicate relevant information to the hiring manager without rambling and sharing unnecessary information.
Preparation also includes researching the company and the interviewer. Doing so may reveal that you have a common interest or a common connection.
Researching the company will prepare you to ask thoughtful questions about the position, which will demonstrate interest and investment.
4. Allow yourself to be distracted
If you allow your mind to wander during an interview, you will very likely miss important information. Furthermore, you’ll communicate an inability to focus and pay attention.
Force yourself to stay engaged. Make eye contact and lean slightly forward in your chair.
Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying.
Make sure, too, that you do not glance at your cell phone for any reason. Don’t check the time or respond to any notifications. Better yet, turn the phone off before the interview, as even vibrations can cause a distraction.
5. Bad-mouth previous employers
Most industries are smaller than you realize. It’s possible that your current interviewer has a connection to your past employer.
Avoid speaking negatively about past coworkers or companies for two reasons. Speaking negatively could suggest an inability to handle conflict well, and it communicates that you might do the same to the hiring company if things end badly.
Excessive criticism of previous companies could also point to a bad attitude and a flawed notion that you bear no responsibility for the toxic situation.
6. Wear the wrong clothes
A Princeton University study found that people make judgments about others within one-tenth of a second.
It’s safe to assume that the same statistic applies to interviews.
Your outfit should not detract from the interview itself. Dress in a way that keeps the interviewer focused on you and what you bring to the table.
Strive for a polished, professional appearance. Adjust your clothing to the kind of company you’re interviewing with.
Avoid looking dated or too casual, and don’t overdo cologne or accessories.
Invest extra effort to make the most of those initial moments.
7. Lose track of your tics
Having a nervous tic won’t keep you from getting a job, but failing to control it might.
If you’re a hair-twirler or nail-biter, realize that those behaviors create a distraction in an interview. They take the interviewer’s attention off of you and your abilities.
Interviews are high-pressure situations, and they present perfect opportunities for your nervous tics to suddenly appear. Be aware that nervousness may tempt them to make an appearance if you aren’t actively guarding against it.
If the worst happens and your tic emerges, consider addressing it head-on. If your voice skips during conversations, explain that tendency to the interviewer so you control the information.
8. Don’t anticipate questions
Your interviewer doesn’t get much time to assess your aptitude for a job, so he’ll likely make the most of the time he does have by asking questions.
Questions allow him to uncover specifics about your skills and abilities and allow him to see how you conduct yourself under pressure.
Prepare by researching common interview questions, and then rehearse your answers. Include challenging topics like salary expectations in your preparation.
9. Don’t realize you’re making mistakes.
High-pressure situations often evoke unusual responses, and we’re often completely unaware of how we’re being perceived.
It is possible, however, to practice these situations often enough that we learn to control our responses. We can develop the skill of interviewing by working at it.
Enlist the help of someone you trust to help you hone your interview skills. Identify your shortcomings before the interview to avoid allowing them to cost you the job you’ve worked so hard to get.
Be introspective and honest in an attempt to identify places you can improve.
When the interviews are complete and it’s time for them to select a candidate, make it impossibly tough for them to pick someone other than you.
Alex Barker is a full-time Pharmacist, media company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He is also is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps busy professionals build successful side businesses.