Top 8 Job Interview Mistakes

The interview might be the most stressful part of the job search for many as you would not be able to revise your answers unlike with your cover letter and resume. But be aware of the top eight interview mistakes below, and you will be better positioned to perform at that important interview.

1. Arriving Late

Despite the importance of being punctual for your job interview, many candidates nonetheless still arrive late. Just to remind you how important it is to be punctual, many interviewers strike candidates off the list the moment they are late. Besides reflecting badly on you, arriving in a hurried manner will make you more nervous and start the interview off on a bad note.

Why take the risk? Pack your resume and other essentials the night before. Check up how to arrive there and leave early. If it is an important job interview, you might even want to try out the route first. However, if an unavoidable accident such as train delay or traffic jam happens, call up the interviewer immediately and arrange to reschedule. Be sure to offer your apologies.

2. Going Unprepared

Mental preparation is crucial to appear confident for your interview. Convince yourself that you are good for the position. Back that up with facts and examples of how your experience and strengths fit with the advertised job description, and how you can value-add to the company. Also, have answers to common interview questions such as "Tell me about yourself" or "Where do you plan to be in five years' time" ready.

In addition, study the background information of your company – history, accolades, recent news, mission and vision. Print them out and read through on the way to the interview or while waiting for your turn instead of spending the time panicking.  

3. Inappropriate Dressing

The first impression is important and you would want to make it a professional one. If you are unsure what to wear, consult friends and family who are in the same industry or, even better, in the same company. Alternatively, you could visit the organisation and see for yourself how the employees usually dress. However, even if they were to dress casual, it is a no-no for you to go for an interview in tee and jeans. The basics for man are shirt and pants with a tie. For the ladies, avoid wearing pants for the first interview as you might come across as overpowering. Dress in a shirt – not too revealing and well-pressed – and a knee-length skirt.

Besides how you dress, it is also important to look clean and neat. Trim your nails, avoid nail polish, gel your hair, get a proper hair cut and check yourself in the mirror before entering the interview room.  

4. Bad Communication Skills

One of the most exasperating experience an interviewer has is that of a disinterested applicant or one that appear to be so. Begin with a firm handshake, remember to maintain eye contact, fake the confidence till you make it, and avoid speaking too quickly to cover up your nervousness. It is okay to take a moment to think through before answering.

On the other hand, avoid sharing too much. Less could be more in this case. Only talk about your hobbies in relation to the job or the company culture. Believe it or not, the interviewer is not interested in the minute details of your life such as your recent break-up.

Also, never show negativity in your answers. Even if you loathe certain aspects of the job, respond by saying you will try your best rather than outright saying "I hate to do that". If you do not have the answer to a question, admit it and explain how you would go about finding the solution.

5. Not Showing the Basic Courtesy

Obvious as it seems, some candidates do not switch off their mobile phones during interviews. Worse, there are those that even answer the call during an interview. While it might be adequate to simply silent your phone, it would be better to switch it off entirely. The vibration or flashing light from the phone might be a distraction.

Some interviewers might attempt to create a less formal and more comfortable interview setting but that does not mean that the basic courtesy could be forgotten. Also, it is always best to be on the safe side. For example, at lunch or dinner interviews, avoid ordering alcoholic drinks even if you are offered to maintain the proper sober impression.

6. Dissing your Past (or Present) Employers

Even if the problem lies in your past boss, don't say so. No one interviewer or employer would like to hear you badmouthing another. It could be them next after all. Besides, your industry might be small and your past boss might know your present one, or the two companies might even have a working relationship. Most importantly, you do not want to come across as a whiney employee.

7. Asking Inappropriate Questions

Never ask inappropriate questions that demonstrate your lack of knowledge or lack of dedication to the job, such as "what does this company do?" or "do I have to work overtime?". Compensation and/or benefits are best left to be asked when brought up or after the discussion of company's needs and wants. If the company sees you as someone who is just after monetary benefits instead of job satisfaction, it might work against you.

8. Not Ending Well

It could be tough to find a job in the current job market but never show your desperation during the interview. For example, by ending off with statements like "please hire me, I will promise to do well". Instead, reiterate your interest in the job, ask what the next step is and remember to thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration.

Related links: Questions Not to Ask your Interviewer, Common Resume Mistakes, Interview and Image, Interviews: Practice Makes Perfect

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