In today’s competitive job market, you need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed. That’s why many job seekers go above and beyond in their interview preparation. They research the company, tailor their answers to specific questions they expect to be asked, and practice their responses until they’re word-for-word perfect.
However, no matter how well you think you know the interview process, there’s one mistake that slips past even the most well-prepared candidates time and again: interview mistakes. Sending an applicant straight home after an unimpressive interview is a risky move for any hiring manager.
After all, your instinct might be that if someone can’t handle a simple interview question with confidence and sincerity, then they probably won’t handle more difficult tasks with the same ease later on in their career with your company. In other words – don’t blow it! Here are 9 of the most common mistakes applicants make during job interviews that could cost them the job if they keep making them.
Let’s break each one down so you can avoid these interview mistakes and put your best foot forward.
Coming in late and rushing through the interview
If you come in late for your interview, it doesn’t matter if you nail every other aspect of the interview; some hiring managers will likely write you off. That’s not to say that you should arrive at the interview 30 minutes before it starts and sit nervously tapping your foot and staring at your watch – but to come in late sends a clear message to your interviewer that you simply don’t care.
And if you rush through your interview answers, you’ll make your interviewer think they were wasting their time. While you don’t want to drone on and on, you do want to be able to fully answer each question with confidence, sincerity, and brevity.
Failing to do your research
As a job seeker, you want to show your potential employer that you’re committed to being successful in their company. One of the most important ways to do that is by demonstrating that you’ve done your research and know something about the company.
As a hiring manager, I’ve often been impressed when candidates have demonstrated their knowledge of our company and industry – even if the answer was something I expected. It shows that you’ve taken the time to prepare for the interview and are serious about the position.
By failing to do your research, you’re sending the message that you don’t care enough about the position to take the time to learn about the company. Don’t fall into this trap!
Talking too much about your current job or company
If you’ve spent your career working for the same company, it’s easy to get wrapped up in talking about your former employers and colleagues. While it’s natural to want to brag about your achievements and share stories about your past successes, you need to stop yourself.
For one, you need to stay focused on the job you’re applying for. And two, you don’t want to come across as being so tied to your previous employers that you’re unable to move forward and think about your future with this company. You don’t want to completely shut the door on talking about your past achievements, but you do want to stay in the present.
Being unable to answer some basic questions
As a hiring manager, if I ask a question and the candidate can’t (or won’t) answer it, I’ll immediately write them off. If you’ve applied for a sales position and I ask you what your closing ratio is and you don’t know because you’ve never closed a sale, then you’re not really a salesperson or you are not prepared although you could be highly qualified.
If you’re applying for an administrative position and I ask you what the function of a secretary is and you have no idea, then you’re not really a secretary, your mind drew a blank, or you are communicating poorly in the interview.
Having a lack of confidence in your answers
Over confidence is a huge hiring manager turnoff. You don’t want to walk into your interview completely lacking in confidence and giving meek, wishy-washy answers, but you also don’t want to walk in with so much confidence that you sound cocky and unapproachable.
Unlike you might think, you don’t want to walk into your interview with as much gusto as possible. Instead, you want to walk into the room with confidence but not so much confidence that you’re unable to answer questions with clarity and sincerity.
Perhaps you’ve been a manager for a few years and want to apply to a higher-level managerial position. In that case, you need to walk in with confidence, but not so much confidence that you’re unable to admit that you don’t have experience doing certain tasks or that you don’t know certain things.
Using slang or colloquialisms that don’t fit the company’s brand
While you might be able to get away with a few slang or colloquialisms during your interview, you don’t want to go overboard. You also don’t want to be so formal that you seem stiff and robotic, but you also don’t want to use so much slang that you sound unprofessional and unintelligent.
While you might be able to get away with saying “we’re killing it” instead of “we’re doing very well,” you don’t want to say things like “I’m stoked” or “I’m stoked for this new opportunity” when you’re being interviewed for a job at a major corporation.
Forgetting to maintain good posture and body language
Posture and body language go hand-in-hand with the previous mistake. If you’re slouching in your chair and staring at your feet while you’re being interviewed, you’re not going to appear confident or professional. If you’re sitting up straight and making eye contact, you’re demonstrating the appropriate behavior.
Wrapping up with a handshake that feels limp and lifeless
First impressions are everything, and your handshake is the first thing your interviewer will remember about you. If you walk into your interview with a limp, lifeless handshake, you’re likely to come across as unengaged, uninteresting, and not worth hiring.
If you walk into your interview with a strong, firm handshake, you’re likely to come across as confident and engaged and worth hiring.
Forgetting to smile – especially at the end of the interview
The end of your interview is a great time to smile as you shake your interviewer’s hand and thank them for their time. After all, you’ve just nailed the interview and you want to walk out of the room with a smile on your face. A smile is the most genuine and effective way to let your interviewer know that you want the job.
To wrap up – Now that you know the 9 most common mistakes applicants make during job interviews, you can ensure that you avoid these blunders when you apply for jobs in the future. By being prepared and taking the time to research the company before your interview, you’ll have already taken a big step towards avoiding these mistakes. Then, all you have to do it walk into the room with confidence and sincerity and you’ll be well on your way to landing the job.