25 Top Job Interview Mistakes

[tweetmeme source="prorecruiter10” http://wp.me/pUMf5-3I] So you finally got the interview, do you know what interview mistakes you should avoid?  An interview is a very sensitive meeting; and many know from experience, one wrong move could cost you.  Having interviewed numerous individuals myself, I decided to list what I believe to be the top-25 factors that could turn what would have been a positive interview sour.

  1. Arriving late to an interview – Probably your most serious interview mistake.  Arriving even five minutes late may be too late for some employers! Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early for your interview.
  2. Arriving too early – On the other hand, many of today’s employers consider arriving more than 15-minutes early rude.  You have to strike a balance between arriving “too much ahead of time” and “running late”.  It doesn’t hurt to wait for a few minutes in your car if you are too early, rather than in the waiting room.
  3. Appearing harried, tired or unkempt – Any of these may affect the employer’s perception of you; and may influence your overall presentation.
  4. Acting discourteous or disrespectful to anyone including the receptionist – Be at your best behavior, you never know who can affect the organization’s decision to hire you.
  5. Offering a poor handshake – A handshake that is too limp or too strong is considered a poor hand shake.
  6. Poor eye contact – Inability to make or hold your interviewers eye contact may be interpreted by the interviewer as a lack of sincerity, evasiveness or lack of confidence.
  7. Too little or no enthusiasm – Your interviewer expects you to be excited about the possibility of joining the organization you are interviewing for – show it!
  8. Acting too eager – This is just as bad as not showing enough enthusiasm.  Your interviewer may wonder if the job you are interviewing for is the only career option you have left.
  9. Short or incomplete answers to questions – Questions from the employer, give you an opportunity to sell your skills, while giving the employer an opportunity to learn about you.  When you give one word answers to questions, you limit your ability to demonstrate your knowledge of a certain topic or area and your experience as relates to the question.  Offer the employer as much information as you can when prompted.
  10. Offering answers that sound scripted – While you are expected to practice delivering answers to interview questions, scripted answers can be likened to a bad sales call, avoid them.
  11. Offering answers that are obvious lies – Just like teachers can tell that “the cat ate my homework” is most likely an untrue statement, interviewers can tell when you are lying about most situations.
  12. Inability to provided good answers about your previous employment – Before an interview, you should anticipate questions that may come up and have good answers for them.
  13. No confidence or low self esteem – Employers want to hire confident individuals. Proper preparation for your interview will boost your self confidence.
  14. Showing  poor communication skills – Inarticulate, incoherent or unfocused statements; using an inappropriate tone and poor body language will demonstrate a lacking of good communication skills
  15. Inability to demonstrate one’s short/long-term goals – Your interviewer wants to know that you are a goal-oriented, self-directed and focused individual.  Not having a short/long-term goal will show that you are not any of these.
  16. Poor demonstration of accomplishments – Most individuals are very proud of their achievements; if you cannot demonstrate yours then maybe you don’t have any.
  17. Insufficient knowledge about the company you are applying to – The last thing you want to do at an interview is to show a lack of interest in the organization you are applying to.  Not knowing much about the organization is a sure indicator of disinterest.
  18. Demonstrating a WIFM (what’s in it for me) attitude – Remember, from the organization’s perspective, you are being interviewed because the organization has a need, and not because you need a job.  Show the organization what you can do for them and not what they can do for you.
  19. Appearing “over-qualified” for the job – Tone down your resume and the presentation of your skills to match the position you are applying for.  Employers want to know that if offered the position, you will stay at the job.  If you appear too bright, you are tagged over-qualified, because the employer thinks that you will leave them the minute you find a better position (one more matched to your qualifications).
  20. Volunteering sensitive information – Personal and confidential information should not be volunteered.  Employers are uncomfortable with candidates that volunteer information that could be deemed “illegal” such as one’s religion or sexual orientation.  Further, volunteering restricted information about your previous employer or job could be an equal turn-off.
  21. Talking negatively about your previous employer – When you talk negatively about your earlier employer, you make your interviewer wonder what you would say about them in a similar situation.
  22. Showing inadequate listening skills – Poor listeners are almost always poor actors.  Your interviewer will be evaluating your listening skills to measure how well you can absorb and retain verbal instructions.
  23. Inability to demonstrate how you can add “value” to the organization – The whole purpose of your interview is to determine if, and how much value you can add to the organization. Demonstrating that you understand the organization’s needs which resulted in the position you are interviewing for; and how you can help them fulfill that need, will convince your interviewer of your value.
  24. Having no good questions for your interviewer – Questions are not just an opportunity for your interviewer to clarify issues, address uncertainties and provide a deeper insight into the position and organization; your interviewer also uses this opportunity to measure your understanding, interest and enthusiasm.  Always come prepared with good questions that you can as k your interviewer about the position, management, colleagues and organization.
  25. Poor closing skills – In a few sentences summarize your total presentation and ask for the position.  Thank your interviewer for their time and ask them the best way and appropriate time to follow-up with them.  Do not forget to send a thank you note; while some employers would not mind if you don’t send this, many will.  In most cases an email will suffice.

3 responses to “25 Top Job Interview Mistakes

  1. lynn hahn August 3, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    Nice list! My husband has been in HRS for many years. He always tells me just what you’re saying . He’s hired on heck of a lot of people lol.

  2. Pingback: 65 Questions you can ask during an interview « h!reUP CAREER BLOG

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