With increased competition in the job market, employers are left with a much wider selection of qualified candidates to choose from than in the past. Now more than ever, it is imperative that job seekers put their best foot forward during the interview and stand out for all the right reasons. It’s up to the job seeker to analyse, identify and act on his/her strengths to avoid making the following top ten interview mistakes.
Not being prepared
Nothing communicates disinterest like a candidate who hasn’t bothered to do pre-interview research. There is no excuse in today’s technological age to go into an interview without having done adequate research on the company with whom you’re interviewing. The best way to make a positive impression on your interviewer is to demonstrate your interest in the company with a few well thought out questions that will reflect your knowledge of their organisation.
Not arriving on time
Arriving late to the interview says to your potential employer that punctuality is not one of your strong points and gives a bad first impression, however, what many job seekers don’t realise is that showing up too early for an interview can create an equally negative impression as it’s disruptive to the interviewer’s schedule. Arrive on time, but ideally never more than ten minutes early. If you do find yourself running late, call the office as soon as you realise it and give an accurate estimate of your arrival time.
Believe it or not, people make an immediate judgement about your character and level of confidence through a handshake. It is the first behavioural act that occurs when people meet and therefore, information conveyed through the handshake is potentially critical. A limp handshake tends to communicate timidity, disinterest, or weakness and should be avoided. A proper handshake should be firm, with an energy that communicates sincerity, strength and professionalism.
The eyes are powerful tools that can either help you or hurt you during the interview. Eye contact conveys confidence and respect and is an essential interview body language used to establish rapport with the interviewer. Avoid eye contact and you’ll seem shifty, untruthful, or disinterested, while offering too much eye contact can make the interviewer feel uncomfortable. If you sometimes have trouble with eye-contact balance, work this issue out ahead of time in an interview practice session.
Appropriate attire supports your image as a person who takes the interview process seriously and understands the nature of the industry in which you are trying to become employed. What is an appropriate dress code for the interview? If in doubt, err on the side of conservative. Your attire should be noticed as being appropriate, well-fitting, clean and pressed but it should not take centre stage. Dress adequately for the occasion by avoiding extreme hairstyles, excessive jewellery or make up and overpowering perfume/cologne.
Badmouthing current or past employers
This will immediately create red flags for any interviewer. No matter how logical your complaints, you’ll always come out the loser if you disrespect or bad mouth your current/past employer(s) as the interviewer will envisage that you would trash him or her in a similar situation. When faced with this challenge, always put a positive spin on your previous work experiences. Don’t let a skilled interviewer trap you into complaining about all the reasons you are/were unhappy, only to surprise you with a rejection.
Talking too much
Talking too much can be something of a curse during an interview and you could end up talking your way right out of the job. Always remember, interviewers are only human and their attention tends to wane the longer you speak. So how do you know when you’ve talked too much? Well, many of us can rely on intuition and are good at reading another person’s body language and therefore able to detect subtle changes. But most of all, we generally get that gut feeling when we’re rambling or simply sharing too many details.
Asking about salary and benefits too early
As a rule of thumb, wages are not discussed during the first interview. If money is discussed, it is up to the interviewer from the company to open up that subject. The interviewer will inevitably tell you what salary and benefits come with the job but generally speaking, the time to talk about salary is when they say they want you for the job. It’s best to know the going rate for your experience and the position, before you go into the interview.
Not adapting your communication style
The interviewer should be the one who sets the tone of the interview, not the candidate. You can easily make a good impression by mirroring the way the interviewer treats you. As an example, if the interviewer seems all business, don’t attempt to loosen them up with a joke or story, rather be succinct and business like. Allowing the interviewer to set the tone of conversation can vastly improve your chances of making a favourable impression.
Not preparing questions to ask
The interviewer should, and typically will, provide an opportunity for you to ask questions at or near the end of the interview. Having no questions to ask sends the message that you are ill-prepared and have not done your research. Although, asking poor questions can be equally damaging, for instance, avoid asking questions that are clearly answered on the company’s web-site or on the job description. Your questions should be intelligent and thoughtful, demonstrating your knowledge of the company.
Remember: the outcome of the interview is not determined by chance, preparation is absolutely essential in today’s job market. You can exercise considerable control and influence over the way the interview is conducted and, more importantly, over the outcome. Having strong interview skills may mean the difference between getting the job offer – and being runner-up, so be prepared and avoid these top ten interview mistakes.