9 Ways to Blow Your Job Interview
Landing a job interview can be an exciting time, but it’s also one that can get your nerves to rattling. That’s because a lot rides on the outcome. You may not get the job based on a good interview, but you’ll definitely lose it from a poor showing.
In this article, we look at the ways that your job interview can go wrong in hopes that you can take these hazards and use them to sidestep the obstacles to a great performance. Let’s begin!
1. Show Up Late
The easiest thing in the world to do on job interview day is show up on time. If the job means something to you, then you’re going to want to put forth the best first impression.
You’ll know in advance when the interview is going to be. Being familiar with the location is no reason for overconfidence. Plan for traffic to make sure you arrive on time.
Don’t know the location that well? Plug it into the GPS on your phone. Try to do a test run in your car to the location. If you can’t, add at least 15 minutes to the time that the GPS says it will take you to get there.
This is important. It gives you the chance to have a few extra minutes in case you have to walk once you get to the parking lot or in case you run into traffic along the way.
2. Bad Eye Contact
Solid eye contact is an art. You don’t want to do it with such intensity that you feel like you’re challenging or threatening the other person, especially an interviewer. However, you do want to lock on and hold it there long enough to project confidence and warmth.
Great eye contact will not secure you the position, but it can disqualify you from consideration. Practice making eye contact with friends whose opinions you can trust. Check yourself out in the mirror as you rehearse answers.
Both of the above exercises are designed to give you a sense of how you’re coming across when speaking to other people. One more particularly useful trick is to create a mini-triangle with the other person’s face. Look at one eye, then the other, then down to the nose, and back to the original eye.
This pattern uses a subtle shift in eye movements that keep you from fixating too long in one area. It also makes you seem more conversational while putting the other person at ease.
3. Ignore Research
Before the Internet, it was rather difficult to easily pull together useful research on the job and the company that you were interviewing for. Today, it’s the complete opposite.
Interviewers expect you to do the work. They want to know that you know your stuff as it relates to the position. They also want to know that you have enough understanding of their company that they don’t have to explain basic things to you.
Take some time to look up current market news for your industry. Read through some recent quarterly statements, and see what the company is in the news for. The more research you do, the easier it will be to connect with your interviewer on a deeper level.
4. Pass On the Chance to Ask Questions
Do you have any questions for us? That’s a question you’ll probably receive near the end of the job interview if you don’t take it upon yourself to throw out questions as you’re going.
The answer to this question is not, nor should ever be, No. It’s sort of an extension of No. 3. The questions that you ask about the job and the company are your chance to show that you’ve done your homework.
If you can stump the interviewer about the position, even better, so long as it’s a relevant ask that hasn’t already been covered during the interview itself. You should have several questions in mind as you get into the interview.
Check off the ones that your interviewer has covered as you go along. Whatever’s left at the end, let them have it so long as it still has bearing on the position and the direction of the company.
5. Talk Around Questions
Did you ever have any classes when you were in school, or maybe you’re in school now and have them, where you felt you could “BS” your way to an A on any paper or written response? Well, that very well may work in high school and college, but it gets a good deal more difficult to pull off in the workforce.
That’s because so much of what you do will be results-driven. Employers want to know you can actually do the job, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
BS-ing, if it’s truly “BS,” will get you found out sooner rather than later. So, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Entering the workforce means you’re going to be under more scrutiny than ever before.
The questions that you’ll come upon in a job interview are the first testers of this. If you think you can “BS” your way through them, just remember that you’re not dealing with a tenured professor here.
You’re dealing with people who make hiring decisions on which the fate of the company depends. They’re not going to be fooled by foolishness. And if they are, the job won’t be worth having for very long.
6. Too Much Talk About Yourself
Wait a minute, aren’t they wanting to know more about me, you may be thinking? Well, yes and no. They want to know that you’re the right person for the job. That entails revealing something about yourself.
However, there’s a difference between showing the employer how you can provide value to them based on your education and work experience, and just bragging about yourself for a couple of hours. It’s important to know what that difference is.
Check your “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine” statements. Make sure that you’re not just laying out your life story. Instead, filter those statements through the lens of “This is how my qualifications, education, and experience, can benefit You.” If you’re always focused on demonstrating the value you bring, any talk about yourself will come across in the right manner.
7. Get Caught In Lies
Wise job candidates do not go into their job interview looking to tell the tallest of tales. Very few will try to tell big lies that are easily detectable regarding their accomplishments and background.
However, it’s the little lie that can really get you. And you may be doing it without even noticing. See, the stories that you tell in your job interview might contradict some of what you’ve put into your application package and resume. If that happens, the employer is bound to notice.
They have the documents. They’re taking notes during the interview. There are usually multiple brains scrutinizing your every detail. If you’ve intentionally misrepresented something in the interview that greatly differs from what you’ve placed on the application or resume, then you could be disqualifying yourself without even knowing.
8. Speak Ill of a Past Employer
Remember whom you are talking to. Prospective employers don’t want to hear bad-mouthing of previous employers. Even if you worked for a competitor and are talking bad about them, the message they take from it isn’t going to be, “Oh, he thinks we’re great, and the other guys stink.”
Instead, the interviewer will see a potential hazard if bringing you into the fold. You become the type of worker, who could take their ball and go home if something doesn’t go your way. Worse, you could become a cancer to the rest of the organization. Hanging in there day after day, but poisoning the morale with constant complaining.
It’s always better to take the high road, even if you have no love for your former employers. Show your professionalism in how you handle the situation, and it will become ingrained in you, cementing itself as one of those “soft skills” that companies today are desperately looking for.
9. Fail to Be Genuine
Being genuine should be at the top of your priorities. Most interviewers know when they’re not getting the real you. They catch you using words the everyday person isn’t going to use in conversation. They spot shallow research, education, or background.
Be yourself, but do it through a filter of positivity. Show you’re there because you want the chance to add value. Be clear about how your qualities will create it. Don’t try to be something you’re not in the interests of trying to impress.
Come Prepared For Your Job Interview
Keep your job interview on track by knowing what to do and what not to do. In this article, we’ve focused on the hazards, but you can take these hazards and use them to your advantage.
We wish you luck on your next interview. Now it’s your turn! What are some of the worst mistakes you’ve ever heard someone making in a job interview? Share in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]