6 Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Job Interview

by Guest Author, Sandra Dawes-Chatha

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially when you feel the job perfectly fits your skills and career goals. You should be aware of a few things that can sabotage your chances of making a good impression on the hiring manager.

The following list includes actions you should avoid and what you should do instead. Once you’re aware of the common mistakes people make in interviews, you know what to avoid and how to prepare for your interview in a way that helps you stand out positively.

1. Not Being Prepared

It would help if you avoided approaching your interview with a “wing-it” attitude. To make a good impression on the interviewer, you can prepare for your interview a few days before the appointment. View the organization’s website, press releases, and social media accounts to research it before the interview. You should also review your resume and practice potential interview questions.

Preparing for your interview ahead of time can help you arrive for the appointment feeling confident and ready to answer the interviewer’s questions. Your preparation should include planning your route and leaving enough time to deal with any delays you encounter during your commute.

If your interview is virtual, you should ensure that the technology works and that you’ve set up your computer the way you want. Have the login details on hand and remove any distractions.

Get a good night’s rest, so you are energized and fresh for the interview, and prepare to impact the interviewer positively. You want to make yourself as comfortable as possible during the interview to give the interviewer your full attention, so ensure you are hydrated and eat something before the interview.

2. Dressing Inappropriately

Avoid dressing casually for a job interview. Smart-casual may increasingly be typical work attire; however, professional attire is the most appropriate business attire for job interviews.

If you’re uncertain about how to dress for the interview, you can ask the hiring manager what the dress code is at the workplace and use that as your guide for your interview outfit. If you don’t get a response from the hiring manager, it’s better to dress too formally than to underdress for an interview. Regardless of what you choose to wear, ensure the clothes are clean and aren’t wrinkled.

3. Being Incoherent and Rambling

When an interviewer asks you a question, don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to think about the question before answering. Avoid going on tangents or not answering the interviewer’s question.

Try to speak at an average speed and avoid mumbling. If the interviewer has to ask you to repeat yourself more than once, you should be mindful of your delivery and pace. You can practice with a friend, family member, or colleague, using a recording app on your phone to hear how you sound in your responses.

Interviewers know you might be nervous, so if you can’t think of an answer right away, you can ask for a few seconds to collect your thoughts or come back to the question later. Keep your responses concise, regardless of how friendly or welcoming an interviewer is.

Remember, a job interview is a professional situation, so don’t get sidetracked or share too much about your personal life.

4. Criticize Past Colleagues and Employers

Many interviewers will ask why you’re considering leaving your current job. Responding that you don’t like a manager or the company can make the interviewer question your motivation for applying for the position and your attitude.

You don’t want to be critical of your current employer or colleagues. Your response can include saying that you are looking for a new challenge or want to be a part of a smaller or larger organization. Speaking negatively about your colleagues may make the interviewer wonder what you might say about them in a similar situation.

Your responses about current and previous employers should be diplomatic. Potential employers don’t want complainers or disloyal employees. Instead of focusing on other people’s mistakes, please focus on the positive steps you took to overcome them, displaying your ability to be positive.

Regardless of how bad a situation was, badmouthing a previous employer won’t leave a potential employer feeling good about you, so resist the temptation to complain about a former or current employer.

5. Not Asking Any Questions

You don’t want interviewers to think that you haven’t done any research or don’t want to learn anything about the position or the company, so you should come to the interview with questions. Employers want to measure your interest level in the job, so you should show up to the interview with questions you’ve prepared.

You can ask questions about the role, the team you’d be working with if chosen as the successful candidate, or something you learned while researching the organization. Write the questions down or print them and bring them to the interview, so you don’t forget what you want to ask.

It can make an excellent first impression when you exhibit an added level of engagement with the questions you ask. The answers you receive can help you better understand the job and determine if it’s the right fit for you. When you get to the conclusion of your interview, expect the hiring manager to ask if you have any questions.

Even if the interviewer has answered most of your questions, you don’t want to tell them you don’t have any. Stay away from questions you can find the answers to in your research. You also don’t want to ask questions about paid time off or whether you got the job.

6. Being Distracted by Your Phone

If you have a habit of checking your phone constantly, you can eliminate the temptation to use your phone during an interview by leaving it in your car. If you commute to the interview via transit or any kind, put your phone on silent and put it away before the interview.

Keeping your phone out of sight is critical, so it doesn’t tempt you to check your messages or other notifications. Talking and texting during an interview can be seen by an interviewer as disruptive and rude. It sends a message to the hiring manager that you don’t consider the discussion a priority.

Instead of going through your phone while waiting for the interview, you can pick up organization literature and read it while you wait. If there isn’t any literature, you can check out any corporate messages or marketing material posted on the walls.

Your mobile phone isn’t the only thing that may serve as a distraction during your interview. Be mindful of habits you display when you’re under stress, such as constantly sniffing for coughing, biting your nails, chewing gum, fidgeting with your hair, or tapping your shoes.

Preparing for the interview, having a good night’s sleep, and practicing interview questions can help put you at ease and reduce your need to fidget.

Preparation Is the Key to Job Success

Being prepared for anything makes us feel more confident about our actions. Doing your research, having a plan for your phone, practicing interview questions, and getting a good night’s rest are great ways to get ready for your appointment.

The good news is that you don’t have to prepare alone! Ask a family member, friend, or colleague to help you practice, and don’t forget to bring a list of questions to ask.

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About the author: Sandra Dawes-Chatha is a self-published author, and former loyal Blackberry user. In addition to freelance writing since 2020, she is a Master Certified Life Coach and has her MBA specializing in Entrepreneurship and business sustainability.

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