So you’ve made it past the application stage, and they’ve asked you to come in for an interview. Congratulations, that is a huge achievement in and of itself. However, now comes the hard part — the series of real-time questions they’ll use to determine if you’re really worth hiring or not.
Some people are great at the interview process, because they’re good at thinking on their toes, and thrive on the pressure. Others, however… not so much. Many of us have trouble in such situations, and as a result, end up sabotaging ourselves in one way or another. SheKnows spoke with several experienced recruiters to find out what some of those common mistakes are, and how you can steer clear of them when it’s your turn in the interviewee’s chair.
1. Making it all about you
Yes, you should be a focus of your job interview, but not the only focus. After all, you’re sitting in a room with another person who does want to see if you’re a right fit for the company, but also if you’re genuinely interested in it and the people who also work there.
Lauren DuBois, Georgetown-certified executive coach, told SheKnows, “Ask good questions that are not just ‘me and my needs’-focused as the candidate. Get to know the interviewer better as a human being. Simply asking, ‘How long have you worked here and what do you like best about this company?’ can be an example of a great question where you learn a lot, while also demonstrating something important about your own persona. An outward focus is golden.”
2. Not doing enough research
You probably already know the basics about the company you’re interviewing with, but that’s not enough to impress your interviewer. Lidia Arshavsky, CPRW at JC Strategic, told SheKnows, “Some job-seekers are afraid that they’ll come off as ‘creepy’ if they read their interviewers’ LinkedIn pages ahead of time, look up media and press about the company where they’re interviewing and otherwise demonstrate having clearly spent a ton of time on research. But in reality, by doing your research — and showing it — you will stand apart from other job candidates, many of whom are too lazy to do any real research.”
3. Asking the wrong questions
You’ve reached the end of the interview, and the recruiter asks you if you have any questions. This is where many interviewees get into trouble, because they often ask questions about how the job can help them, not the other way around. Barry Maher, author of Filling the Glass, told SheKnows, “The questions applicants ask during the interview often reveal their priorities in a way that nothing else during the interview does. The best questions show not just an interest in the job but an interest in helping the company accomplish its goals.”
4. Keeping answers too brief
While you don’t want to ramble on in an interview, you also don’t want to restrict your responses. Remember, this is a chance for your interviewer to get to know you, and they can’t do that if you’re not forthcoming. Peter Seenan of Leadfeeder told SheKnows, “We’re not here… to make you look like a fool. We’re in a room with you to get as good an idea about you as possible. You know the best way for us to get to know you? Talk. Elaborate. Express yourself. It’s a massive mistake to sell yourself short. Elaborate on your experiences and it allows us to find more and more common touch points and before you know it, we like you and you’ve got a job offer.”
5. Being too casual
A lot of things can fall into this category, from oversharing on personal (aka not job-related) topics, to how you sit, dress and act. You should always look neat and tidy for an interview. Look up “business casual” and nail it. Social Media Director at Atrium Staffing Allison Basilica says this carries over into how you present yourself physically. Even if the interview feels relaxed, that’s no excuse to slouch or get verbally lazy. Never forget you’re still auditioning for the job.
6. Bashing your previous employer
This goes hand in hand with number five. Basilica says you shouldn’t let a casual-feeling interview trick you into thinking it’s OK to say negative things about your previous employer. That is never OK, because it makes you look like you don’t have respect for the people for whom you work.
7. Forgetting little, but important details
Here are just a few small things that could end up making a really poor impression on your interviewer: forgetting a clean copy of your resume, bringing coffee into the interview, chewing gum, showing up late or too early and forgetting to turn off your cell phone. All these things can add up to someone who doesn’t have themselves together, and would thus not make a good addition to the company.
It might seem like there are a lot of ways you can potentially mess up your chances of landing the job, but most of these are just common sense. The most important thing is to present the best version of yourself and show genuine interest in the job and company, which shouldn’t be too hard since you’ve already taken significant steps to get there. Just take your time, breathe slowly to keep your nerves at bay and triple check that your phone is on silent.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below: