All that hard work sending out resumes has finally paid off and you’ve been called in for a face-to-face job interview. Congratulations! This is an important next step in your job search. It’s also your only chance to make a lasting first impression.
On the day of your interview, sweating palms and stomach butterflies are to be expected. But you can reduce your stress level by knowing some common mistakes that interviewees make when meeting with potential employers — and avoiding them.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes people make on job interviews:
- Not taking the interview seriously: Don’t make the mistake of thinking the interview is just a formality. Even if all the preliminaries have gone well, don’t be cavalier and start imagining how you’ll start spending your new salary. The biggest error you can make is to assume that, because you’ve gotten this far, the job is in the bag.
- Dressing down: How you present yourself during your initial meeting with a potential employer is very important, and your physical appearance can speak volumes to someone who is meeting you for the first time. Even if you know that the firm allows employees to wear jeans, don’t sabotage yourself by showing up to the interview in casual clothing. Err on the side of conservative and show up in neat, professional clothing, preferably a business suit.
- Not showing why you’re the best choice: Be familiar with the job description of the position you’re interviewing for so you can illustrate how your experience, abilities, and strengths are in line with the company’s needs. Many potential employers want to know why they should hire you specifically. Make it clear to them.
- Being too modest: Failing to talk yourself up during an interview is one of the most self-defeating mistakes you can make. This is not the time for humility, so sing your praises! Don’t be afraid to talk up everything you’ve accomplished, whether in school or in previous companies. This is your time to shine.
- Talking too much: Be careful not to talk over the interviewer. This meeting should be a two-way conversation, and many interviewees cover up their nervousness by blathering on. Sit calmly and listen carefully, answering questions thoughtfully.
- Focusing on the funds: Don’t start talking about money too soon into the interview. Focusing on your salary requirements and previous salary history right off the bat may cause you to reveal too much. While the topic of salary will certainly come up, follow the interviewer’ s lead. He or she may be saving that topic for a later conversation.
- Trash talking: Even if you hated your former boss or felt you were treated unfairly by your previous employer, a job interview is not the place to launch into a litany of complaints. Don’t go there. If you were laid off or fired from a previous position, be prepared with an explanation that puts a positive spin on the circumstances.
- Failing to ask questions: Your résumé may be impressive on paper, but employers also appreciate a candidate who can ask several intelligent questions during an interview. Prepare at least 3 or 4 questions in advance to ask the interviewer. Interviews are an exchange of information, and not having questions to ask can reveal a lack of preparation.
- Lack of enthusiasm: This is your first and sometimes only chance to showcase your personality. Don’t walk in announcing how you’re having a bad day. Be polite and upbeat. Show your enthusiasm for both the job and the opportunity to interview for it. And don’t forget to thank the person at the end of the interview!
- Forgetting the follow-up: Make sure to send a handwritten thank-you note or polite email to the interviewer expressing gratitude for his or her time and consideration. And while you don’t want to start calling the company on a daily basis, a phone call checking in a week after the interview is perfectly acceptable.