You’ve got the skills, drive and enthusiasm for the job. Several friends have urged you to apply. Even the most short-sighted employer should see this, you tell yourself, as you prepare for the interview. What could possibly go wrong? Read on to learn how to avoid common interview mistakes that can kill your chances of landing that dream job.
First impressions matter, especially when you are competing with others. Being late for an interview shows a lack of preparation, a lack of respect for the person you are meeting and could indicate a consistent time management problem. Arrive at the building where you will be interviewed at least half an hour early and wait in the lobby or at a nearby café, before arriving at reception five minutes before the agreed meeting time. In an emergency, for example if a truck accident shuts down highway access to the city, remain calm and professional. Call the interviewer as soon as you know the situation, apologise and provide an estimated time of arrival.
You’re caught lying
Never, ever, exaggerate, embellish or make up details about your employment history or any other aspect of your CV. Lying is plain wrong, may be a crime and is likely to be found out during the candidate review process or later when you are in the role. The power of the Internet has made fact-checking easier and faster than before. If you are caught out, not only will you not get the job, but you could be left with a mark against your name that would make it hard to get any job.
Too casual for your audience
You feel nervous as you wait to go into the interview and think sharing the joke your heard from your mates last night might help to break the ice and work in your favour. Stop right there. Scruffy hair, inappropriate dress and bad personal hygiene are other things that will almost certainly ensure you never make the short list. Always remember that candidates are assessed on how they look and what they say. Dress for success. Put on that suit or work dress, shine those shoes and please, refrain from that joke.
You may have left or be contemplating leaving your job because of a bad boss or nasty colleague, but an interview is not the time or place to let your mouth run free. Openly criticising, blaming or vilifying others can reflect more about you and your inability to deal with challenging situations than it does the people you are talking about. Think carefully first. Your interviewer will probably also want to know what you could have done to improve the situation, before you chose to leave instead. Employers like overcomers not quitters.
You’re a show pony
There’s a difference between being self confident and just cocky. If you have a big ego and like to brag, keep both in check to stop them from losing you that job. You also should be honest with yourself and only apply for roles suited to people with extroverted personalities.
You are asked that first question and as you answer you begin to ramble. Rambling is a sign you have not prepared properly, cannot mentally focus, lack confidence and may have problems communicating with clients and colleagues. Prepare and practice responding to obvious interview questions, distil longer answers into shorter key messages and make sure your body language is appropriate when doing so.
Follow up failure
Waiting to hear back from the interviewer can be an unsettling experience. Be careful not to be too proactive in trying to find out if you are through to the next stage, or you risk being seen as pushy and impatient. It is Ok to send a short, succinct and well-crafted thank you email immediately after the interview. However, do not make unsolicited calls and ‘check in’ each day. If you haven’t received any information a few days after you were told a decision would be made, you can (and should) follow up with a call or another email.
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