It’s a situation we all dread: During an interview, the room falls silent, there is an awkward pause, the interviewer clears his throat, and everyone present just knows something has gone awry. If you have ever experienced an interview that went poorly, you know how difficult it can be to figure out what, exactly, you did wrong—and how hard it therefore is to avoid making the same mistake all over again. To clear up some of the confusion, we’ve collected a list of the ten most common mistakes below so that you can more easily develop your interview skills:
- Lying, either on your resume or during the interview.
Many people believe that telling a few “white lies” to pad their experience is standard practice, but in reality, not only is lying to a prospective employer an act of fraud, it’s one of the most common interview-killing mistakes. Research reveals that over 70% of interviewers can detect these lies, whether they’re in written form or spoken aloud during the interview, and being caught out in a lie almost always costs the interviewee a chance at the job.
- Showing up late—for any reason.
Very, very few interviewers will hire a candidate who shows up late, even if he or she has a valid reason (e.g. poor weather, traffic conditions). You should therefore research your route ahead of time and plan to leave at least half an hour early. If you’re unsure what traffic conditions will be like at the time your interview is scheduled, try doing a “practice run” and note down how long the trip takes.
- Dressing poorly.
Make sure to research your prospective employer’s company culture and dress appropriately; depending on the company and the industry, you will likely need to wear either “business casual” clothing or formal attire. You should also be sure to groom yourself extremely well and avoid eating prior to the interview so that your smile is pristine.
- Not being prepared.
Either not knowing the answer to an industry-relevant interview question or asking a question that reveals you haven’t, for example, even read the company’s website will instantly make you look like an unfit candidate. You should therefore be sure to thoroughly research the company to which you are applying (including the person interviewing you), the industry it is in, and its competition so that you are prepared for all possible questions during the interview.
- Speaking ill of a current or previous employer.
While it’s fine to explain why you would like to move on to a new career opportunity, you should never make things “personal” by criticizing your current or former employer. Doing so makes you look unprofessional, possibly difficult to work with, and less than trustworthy. Even if your interviewer asks what you dislike about your last employer, politely steer away from the question.
- Saying negative things about the company that’s interviewing you.
Sometimes interviewees get carried away trying to prove their competency when asked how they would improve the company and end up criticizing it. This immediately makes one look like a bad fit for the company, however, so make sure that you preface any such answers positively, e.g. “I already think your firm does an excellent job when it comes to engaging with customers, but I would choose to expand the company’s social media reach even further to enhance consumer trust and loyalty.”
- Playing it safe.
Diplomacy is so necessary to the interview process that it’s easy to fall into the habit of giving textbook responses to standard interview questions like “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” This is a grievous error, however, as it means you’re almost certainly going to be forgotten amongst a sea of similarly cautious candidates. To avoid this trap, create meaningful, personalized responses; as long as they’re positive and professional in nature, you are unlikely to offend your interviewer.
- Concentrating too much on what you want.
While it’s true that interviewers tend to value assertiveness, you should not spend the majority of your interview highlighting what you hope to get out of the job should you secure it. Instead, focus on the value that you can add to the company.
- Appearing unfocused.
Communication during job interviews should be precise and relevant, never vague or rambling—remember, the object is to make an impact on your potential employer. To avoid unfocused conversation, rehearse likely interview questions and answers prior to the interview.
- Forgetting to follow up.
A short, polite email thanking the interview for the opportunity he or she has given you is such a standard practice today that if you fail to follow up, your interviewer is very likely to assume you’re not actually serious about the job. Ergo, you should never forget this key step—send your thank you note within 24 hours of being interviewed.
Avoid these 10 Job Interview Mistakes and you will increase your chances of getting hired.
Robert Moment is an interview coach,speaker and author of Interview Tips:Proven Job Interview Tips, Interview Questions and Interview Skills to Get Hired in Job Interviews for the Job You Want.. Robert specializes in how to interview tips and skills, helping professionals maximize their knowledge, skills and abilities to get hired,promoted and paid more in job interview opportunities. Robert tell professionals why they aren’t getting hired for jobs and teach them, how to get hired, how to sell themselves , stand out from the competition and negotiate the best salary for themselves.