18 Interview Mistakes to Guarantee You Won’t Get the Job
There are many interview mistakes you can make, and chances are pretty high they’ll be playing through your mind before you sit down for the big day. It’s not a bad idea to be aware of what could happen. But you can’t let it imbalance you. Even so, knowledge is power. And we’re here to go through each one of the self-imposed roadblocks that’ll likely keep you from landing the job. Let’s begin!
1. Asking What the Company Does
Where you think this question might show a genuine interest, what it says to the interviewer is this: “I care so little about getting this job that I didn’t bother learning anything at all about your company.”
That’s probably not your intention. But it’s how any interviewer or interview panel would look at it. They want someone who can demonstrate self-motivation. And if you’re not motivated enough to do a basic Google search on the company and read a few of their latest press releases or news stories, you’re not showing that you have what it takes.
2. Getting to the Job Interview Too Late
An interviewer can keep you waiting. You’re there on their terms. But if you ever try flipping the script on them, you won’t be getting the job. That’s because they’re thinking a couple of things when they see you show up late.
First, they are assuming this is what you’ll do if they hire you, leaving your fellow employees and the company as a whole in a jam. Secondly, they’ve got dozens of other candidates who won’t show up late and who will be at least comparable in skills and qualifications. Why bother with you?
That said, being late doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, provided you handle it correctly. How do you handle something so seemingly disrespectful “correctly”? You call as soon as you realize you’re going to be late. You explain what’s holding you up (i.e., traffic jam, car accident, etc.). You ask if you can reschedule.
The rescheduling part is important because it means you’re not holding up the interviewer’s day. They realize accidents can happen. This will be a great gesture for getting them to shrug it off and give you a second chance.
3. Getting to the Job Interview Too Early
The opposite of getting there too late — or not at all — is no better. Say your interview is at 10 a.m. You get there at 9 a.m. You’ve done a couple of things wrong in this scenario.
First, you’ve put a burden on the receptionist. He or she will have to “do something with you” as you wait, or they’ll at least feel compelled to. Angering these gatekeepers is a big no-no because they often control access to the calls and the information that comes across their boss’s desk.
Secondly, you’re going to be seen as “pressuring” the interviewer. They don’t want you sitting in their office for an hour of the day. While your tactic may convince them to meet with you earlier, it’ll also disrupt the flow of their day and simultaneously make them feel guilty that you’re having to wait on them.
No one likes to be goaded into doing something on someone else’s terms. So get there 10-15 minutes early. Plan the night ahead if you’re unfamiliar with the route. And make sure you’ve accounted for delays in your timing. If you do arrive too early, sit in the car until a more reasonable amount of time is left before the meeting starts.
4. Dressing Down
You don’t necessarily have to wear a suit to the interview. But you should know if that’s the norm. And if it is, then wear one! If it’s not, you can still do your best to look spiffy. Try to get a feel for the company’s dress code ahead of time. This is where friends and family members who are/did working/work at the company can be valuable.
Whatever you do, avoid shirts with writing on them, shorts, sandals or flip-flops, and other assorted summer fun wear. Make sure your outfit indicates professionalism through-and-through.
5. Failing to Understand the Position
This is similar to not knowing what the company does. You’re much better off if you can explain what the position is to them. Sure, they already know (probably). But it’ll win their confidence and appreciation if you’re the type of person they don’t have to explain things to and hand-hold through the workday.
If you do have questions about the position, preface them. You can do this by using statements like, “I know the job entails XYZ, but I wanted to ask you about ABC facet of it.”
6. Not Asking Questions
No questions mean no interest. Everyone has questions, and your unwillingness to share yours indicates you either aren’t engaged or you’re too timid to accept risk. Neither quality speaks well of a candidate worth hiring.
Your interviewers will expect you to ask questions. They’re more than happy to answer them. They just don’t want to have to be answering surface-level stuff. So do your research in the days leading up to the interview. Get online and see what others who’ve interviewed for a similar job did to win their employers over. Borrow from their ideas and adapt to suit your own style.
7. Obsessing Over Money
Money is important. It’s what puts food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. It’s what will take care of us during our best of times and worst of times. And when it comes to employment, it’s sort of how we gauge our worth.
No one blames you for wanting to make as much money as possible. But if all you can ask about is how much the job will pay, how often you’ll get raises, and what the full compensation structure is like, then you’re conveying too much materialism and not enough desire to actually fill the position.
In the interview, the interviewers are trying to see what value you can bring to the company. Talking about money and obsessing over its importance only tells them that you plan on making more withdrawals than deposits.
8. Making Poor Eye Contact
Poor eye contact can take a couple of forms. The first and most obvious: you don’t look the interviewers in the eye at all. The second: you do look them in the eye but you either gaze too long or you do distracting eye movements.
Try to remember to establish eye contact frequently. But do make room for breaks. One suggestion that works pretty well is to create a triangular motion with your eyes, shifting focus a few seconds at a time from one eye to the other, then down to the mouth, and back up to the eye.
This pattern gives the sense that you are establishing a more comfortable form of eye contact. It also seems imperceptible, so you won’t be making the interviewer uncomfortable with it.
It’s okay to trip over your words every now and then. Happens to the best of us. But when your answers become muddled in a sea of nervous stutters and vocalized pauses (um, you know, and so, etc.), it’s clear to the interviewer that you have not adequately prepared.
The best thing to do is to rehearse likely interview questions into a mirror. See how you look speaking. Also, record it for playback so you can really scrutinize the words and the sounds that are coming out of your mouth. We guarantee you’ll hear and notice things about your delivery that you would otherwise assume aren’t there. And that will help you improve.
10. Not Doing Enough Prep Work
Failing to adequately prepare for the interview questions you’ll be asked is inexcusable in our modern world. That’s because it’s very easy to get online, check out a specialty site or forum, and start asking questions. You may not even have to ask anything at all if your research skills are pretty decent. That’s because others have likely had the conversation you’re about to start.
See what you can find out about the interview questions others have been asked. Make a note of the really interesting ones. Doing a deep dive and learning about the possibilities may not end with you having every question you’ll be asked, but it’ll certainly make you seem more prepared on the day of the interview. It may even help you take control of it and decide where it needs to go.
11. Leaving Yourself Vulnerable
Another of the big interview mistakes is to leave yourself vulnerable for interviewers’ judgments. This can happen by not doing enough of a deep dive into your own history. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen it over the years.
An interviewer asks a question. An unprepared applicant has difficulty answering in spite of the fact that they have ample experience; they’re just having issues illustrating that in the interview setting. This is caused by the previously mentioned failure to prepare. But it’s also a specific problem that makes you look like you’re unqualified when you actually are.
So before you go into the interview, patch up those vulnerabilities. Review the job description. Break out the pen and paper. Make a list of all the things you can point to that illustrate your skill, knowledge, or ability. This will ensure you’re ready for that dreaded follow-up: “Give me an example.”
12. Trying to Fool Them
Trying to fool a job interviewer is like trying to beat a Chessmaster at his own game when all you’ve ever played is Checkers. He knows the board every which way, and he can tell when you’re trying to lure him into a trap. He also knows how to distinguish between trickery and genuine ignorance. It’s basically a fruitless endeavor to even try.
Now, so you know to avoid them, what are some ways that people often try (and fail) to fool their interviewers? They talk about experience but gloss over details of that experience in action. They use carefully-worded statements to tout their qualities without speaking directly.
These “tricks” may work on the occasional research paper in high school, but they’re not going to fool a subject matter expert who’s interviewed hundreds of people during their careers. So don’t try it. Be honest about what you can’t do, and impress upon them the value in what you can.
13. Assuming They Have Read Your Resumé
You probably have operated under the misconception that interviewers actually read and study your resumé before they invite you to sit down with them. Not the case. Many times they’ll have it in front of them during the interview, and it’ll be the first they’re ever seeing of it.
And if they have seen it before, you can bank on it that they didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time learning its contents. It’s imperative that you assume they know very little about your accomplishments. This will ensure that you’re well-equipped to guide the interview toward your strengths every chance you get.
But remember — and we’ve already said this a couple of times in this article — be prepared to give examples. You don’t want to just run down the bullet points of your resumé. You want to make sure they “see” how you’ve made it applicable in your work life. If you can do that, they will remember what they need to about who you are and why they should hire you.
14. Missing Opportunities to Show
We don’t mean to flog a dead horse here, but missing opportunities to show off your skills, talents, and accomplishments, is what will lead to regret about the interview. Don’t sit around afterward thinking, “I wish I would have said this-or-that.”
The best way to avoid this is to have some stories planned out before you go into the interview. Practice telling those stories and tying them to the reason you’re a good candidate for the position. Impress that upon yourself, and it will feel more fluid when the time comes for the interview itself.
It may even help to repeat the words “Show Don’t Tell” as a mantra in your head before and during the interview. Whatever you can do to make it unforgettable will make you unforgettable when before the hiring board.
15. Telling Too Much
Do you feel flighty and episodic? Are you simply jumping from one topic to the next, seemingly without a break? Then you’re telling too much. And that means you’re missing a lot of opportunities to show (see No. 14).
The only way through this is to slow down and get in control of your breathing. There are several things you can do to help. Some recommendations include the following:
- Listen to specially-focused Chakra music formulated around self-control
- Go somewhere alone and start counting your breaths with your eyes closed
- Visualize yourself nailing the interview and landing the job while you’re in a dark room, eyes shut, alone
- Write out a script with pen-and-paper covering the stories you’d like to share and the points you aim to make
Exercise also can help you focus your efforts. But don’t limit yourself to this small and admittedly simple list. Explore, explore, explore!
16. Thinking the Interview Is Everything
It’s not. You don’t have to ace it to get the job. A poor performance can sink your chances, but an average interview can keep you in the running, provided that you have enough of a resumé to back up the idea that you’re the right person for the position.
17. Pestering After the Fact
Feel free to follow up after a few days, but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. Your interviewers have likely reviewed dozens of candidates and attempted to give them the same amount of time and consideration as they’ve given to you. They’ve met in private afterward to discuss their scores. They’ve agonized over decisions about who to keep in the running and who to cut loose.
They’ve also had to do all of this while taking care of their normal work duties. And if they’re making the hiring decisions, they’ve probably got a lot of highly important normal work duties. So cut them some slack, and keep your mind on the things you can control. When you do attempt to approach them again, keep it short and non-intrusive. Email is the preferred method of choice for following up.
18. Thinking You Only Have One Shot
You may not get a job you’ve applied for, but that does not mean you’re without a future in the industry or even at that company. Many times — and this is especially true with larger companies — there are numerous openings available. Your skills may not be an exact match for the one you applied for but if you keep at it, you’ll eventually get the right fit.
Also, you can learn so much from a failure if you’re willing to analyze it and pick up on its lessons. That’s why it is always a great idea to “Monday Morning Quarterback” your rejection letter. You might even ask those rejecting you for advice on what you need to get up to speed on before they’d consider you again.
Take what they say to heart. And never, ever take it personally, especially when it comes from a place of helpfulness.
These Interview Mistakes Will Only Make Your Future Harder to Navigate
Don’t let interview mistakes be your undoing. Be aware of what they are before you subject yourself to the gauntlet of questions you’re about to receive. Only by knowing what you’re doing can you put your best version of You in the spotlight.
[Featured Image by Inc Magazine]