You’ve passed the initial phone screening, and now you’ve been invited to come in for an interview with the hiring manager. How do you ensure you don’t blow your chances of landing the job?
Avoid making these common interview mistakes and you’re well on your way to success!
Mistake #1: Poor body language
Everyone gets nervous to some extent during an interview. It can be nerve-racking to feel you’re being evaluated with every sentence and pause. However, it’s vital to your interview’s success to create a connection with the interviewer—so that means you shouldn’t act like a stiff, boring version of yourself. Although your body language should also not be a distraction from your answers, it’s okay to look at the interviewer or use normal hand gestures while you’re speaking.
It’s also important to know what your nervous habits are. For example, twirling your hair, fidgeting in your chair or clicking a pen—these can all be distracting for the interviewer and make you look less than professional.
Mistake #2: Arriving unprepared
You need to know as much as possible about the company and the position before walking into your interview. Many hiring managers ask simple questions about the organization, such as what their main products or services are, during an interview. Others may go farther in depth, asking about recent news or trends that should have come up in a quick search of the company name.
Another aspect of coming prepared is to bring another copy of your resume (or copies if it is a panel or group interview), a pen, a pad of paper for notes, and business cards. Depending on your field, you may also be asked to bring your professional portfolio or other materials.
Mistake #3: Talking badly about a former employer
Although you may be in this interview because of a bad experience elsewhere, it’s important not to bring up your “dirt” from the last job you were at. It’s an instant red flag for the hiring manager and makes you look unprofessional. To be frank, just don’t do it.
Mistake #4: Talking too much or not enough
By now, you probably have a good idea of which questions a hiring manager will ask during an interview. If not, do a quick Google search to find the most common questions. Then, practice your answers! Enlist a friend or family member to help or record yourself on your webcam. It’s the best way to figure out how you’ll appear during an interview.
When you play back your responses (or have your friend give you feedback), determine which answers you need to work on. Did you talk too long or go off-topic? Did you provide very short answers, leaving the person wanting to know more? Find that balance between the two and you’ll leave your interviewer impressed.
Mistake #5: Failing to sell yourself
During an interview, the hiring manager is determining your fit with the organization and position. Make it easy for them by clearly connecting the dots between your experience and skills and the position at hand. Come into the interview with confidence that you could be the right fit for the job.
Remember that you, too, are interviewing the hiring manager. Assess the work environment and culture to see if it’s somewhere you would be content working in the future. At the end of the interview, share your enthusiasm for the job again and thank the interviewer for the opportunity. Inquire about next steps and when it would be appropriate to follow-up about the opening.
What other interview mistakes do job candidates make? How can they avoid making common mistakes?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for Examiner.com and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.