You can never take a first impression for granted, especially in an interview! When you’re being judged compared to your peers, every little fact can make or break your chances of getting the job. Even the smallest mistake can be costly.
You always want to stand out in an interview—just make sure it’s for a good reason! We’ll analyze some of the most frequent mistakes job seekers make in the quest for a new career. Commit these penalties at your own peril!
This is an obvious one, but you should make sure you’re able to be on time for your interview. Outside circumstances obviously happen, but account for potential hiccups by making extra time. It’s the best practice to arrive a few minutes early anyway. Make sure to research the proper route to the physical location, or make sure all distractions are accounted for if it’s a phone or video interview. Appearing unprepared is a great way to not get the job.
Not researching the organization
Speaking of a lack of preparation, if your early questions for your interviewer consist of “what does this company do?” or “what do you do here?” you’ve just shown your hand that you didn’t do prior research.
PushFar states “what do you know about our company?” as one of the most common questions you’ll be asked by an interviewer. While they may have their own spiel to give you about their organization, they’ll expect you to have done some research. Going into the interview blind gives an impression of a lack of interest and drive, and they may think you don’t care about the position.
We always recommend doing your prior research before getting to your interview, in fact, you should do this research before even applying to see if it’s a place you want to work for. Sophia Bernazzani says you can prove you’ve done your homework by asking questions related to the interviewer and their accomplishments.
Ask a question that shows you’ve done your research – and starts an interesting discussion.” -Sophia Bernazzani
In a similar vein, avoid saying “I don’t know” to any questions you’re asked. This shows not only a lack of preparation but creativity as well. Even if the question is tough, ask for a moment to gather your thoughts and at least try to come up with something.
Saying “It’s on my resume.”
When applying for jobs, needing to retype information easily found on your resume is a chore, and not every website has adapted to a modern job search. But when an interviewer asks about your past experiences, don’t refer them to your resume in a tiff. There’s a reason they are asking, and it doesn’t have to do with them not doing their research!
“If a recruiter is asking you about a certain skill, don’t reference your resume, and instead use it as your moment to shine.” –Nando Rodriguez, Ogilvy & Mather
Forbes’ Jack Kelly discusses that many job seekers will get offended and assume the interviewer isn’t prepared, but this isn’t the case. The interviewer wants to hear you communicate your skills and accomplishments and ideally relate them to how you’ll use them in this new position. They want to gauge your social skills and see how you articulate your abilities in person.
Letting the conversation become too casual
We’ve said that when an interview turns conversational, that’s usually a good time. Being able to connect with the hiring manager and prove you’ll be a good cultural fit is great, but recall that you’re still in an interview. Don’t mistake of letting things become too casual.
It’s never good to start dropping swears in an interview setting, even if the hiring manager does, reminds Sophia Bernazzani. Stay alert even when things take a personal turn, and make sure you won’t say anything you’ll regret just because you feel comfortable in the moment.
“You are less likely to use unprofessional language during an interview when you slow down, take your time to think about your response and focus on speaking clearly.” –Indeed
Badmouthing previous employers
This is a point we stress often, but it’s never a good idea to bash your previous employer, even if your last job was the actual worst. Think of it like dating—no one ever wants to hear their date talk about their ex the entire time.
The Muse says to at least focus on something you learned at your previous job while keeping a neutral or positive tone. While the interviewer will definitely ask about your previous job, they care most about what you can do for them. Focus on the future, not the past!
Even if some of these tips seem obvious, it can be easy to let a mistake slip in the heat of the moment. The more preparation you accomplish, the less likely you are to commit one of these errors. Self-awareness is at the heart of a good interview, and understanding the pitfalls other job seekers commonly make can help you avoid their unfortunate path.