Even if everything goes as planned, interviews can be very stressful. The last thing you want is for some blunder to occur that could have been easily avoided.
Following is a list of potential mistakes. Can you see yourself starring in one of these epic disasters? Relax. Running through the handful of worst case scenarios outlined here can help ease pre-interview jitters and put you in the right mindset to avoid the worst of them. For instance, chewing gum during an interview might have been pure carelessness (see below), but could just have easily been an innocent oversight, too. But as the interview time approaches, it can be easy to forget about it.
1. Do Your Research:
You should have ample time to review the company (and the interviewer via LinkedIn) prior to your interviewer. Avoid calling the interviewer by the wrong name or having incomplete or wrong information about the company. Take a look at How To Be Impressive Before, During and After Your Interview.
2. Turn OFF Your Cellphone:
Not a good thing if your cellphone goes off in the middle of an interview (and that includes email notifications, Twitter notifications, Text chimes, etc.). Worst of all, if you somehow forget to turn off your phone, DO NOT ANSWER IT! Just turn it off. In those intense moments of anticipation before show time you might overlook the simplest of preparations, such as turning off the cell phone. To avoid this, plan for a moment of reflection before you step foot into the building. Run through a checklist, whether it’s mental or written, to ensure you’ve taken care of all the simple, goofy things that can blossom into big mistakes later.
3. Leave the Gum at Home:
Chewing gum during a job interview is not a good idea. If you feel like you need to freshen your breath prior to the interview, spit out your gum prior to entering the building.
4. Get Some Sleep:
Just as bad is acting bored or being tired during an interview. A big yawn is not going to impress. You need to be energized and attentive, which means getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. Don’t shortcut this step by relying on an energy drink to perk you up. You’ll be at your best if you’re naturally alert.
5. Dress the Part:
One of the most frequently stated pieces of advice to job seekers is to dress appropriately, and yet hiring managers still see mini-skirts, tee-shirts and nose rings. Regardless of the job, dressing professionally shows you are treating the interview seriously and that you’re mature. Just because you’re applying for a life guard position doesn’t mean you should show up looking like a surfer dude.
6. Know Your Background Information:
There have been many times when a job seeker was caught unprepared with a long application to fill out at the interview location. Come equipped with all the information you could possibly need concerning employment history, your previous addresses, dates of military service, etc.
7. Know Your Resume:
You would be surprised how many people are not familiar with the details of their own resume. Make sure you know your own resume inside and out. It’s incredibly embarrassing to be asked specifics about a project you boasted about on the resume and respond with a blank look. Even if someone helped you write the resume, you definitely should be the expert.
8. Communication is a Two-Way Street:
While the hiring manager will ask the questions, they expect a dialogue with the candidate. Concentrate on truly communicating with the interviewer. It starts off with a handshake and friendly greeting. There have been cases of the interviewee barely saying a word and other cases of the interviewee dominating the conversation. Slow down, relax and be yourself.
9. Don’t Badmouth Your Current Company:
You know the old saying – “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Even if you had a horrible time with your current or previous employers, don’t badmouth them to the interviewer. You’ll just leave the impression of being disgruntled and unprofessional.
10. Tell Me About Yourself:
This is a common question, but imagine being asked and you have no idea what to say? This question many people nervous and some people have rattled on about their family, their dog or personal issues. The question is meant for your professional life, not personal. Plan ahead and have a great story to tell.
11. Tell the Truth:
Honesty is mandatory. Not being truthful about your experience or education will come back to haunt you. Why would you say you graduated from a college that you did not attend or claim to have experience you do not have? The hiring manager is definitely going to figure out you were lying real fast.
12. Be Prepared to Ask Questions:
One of the absolute best ways of going into an interview feeling more prepared is to have some questions to ask during the interview. You should have questions! This means doing research about the company and position ahead of time. An interviewer can spot a shallow, unprepared question easily. Take a look at 10 Questions to Ask at an Interview.
13. Don’t Be Late:
The worst thing you can do is to be late for your interview. If possible, try to visit the building several days before the interview so that you are familiar with the location. Make sure you have time to sign-in at the security desk as you never know what obstacles will slow you down. Get to the interview location at least 15 minutes early (but don’t go in until close to the agreed time). The extra time will also give you a chance to mentally calm and prepare yourself. If you are late, be sure you don’t claim that promptness is one of your greatest strengths!
14. Don’t Talk Benefits:
You will, at some point, need to talk about benefits, compensation and vacation days but these topics should be saved for the final round (or when you get the job offer). Even if you are asked about your acceptable salary, keep it low key (see How to Answer the Most Terrifying Job Interview Questions.
15. Don’t Forget to Follow-up:
Send a thank you letter (take a look at Have you sent your Thank You letter?)that shows your continued interest in the position and highlights the positives from the interview. It’s amazing how many people neglect this important step. When you do it, it’s almost a guarantee to impress the interviewer and keep you fresh in his or her mind.
Despite all the preparation in the world, you could still fall flat on your face. You’re only human, after all. It’s not something to beat yourself up over, provided you don’t make the same mistakes over and over. Everyone has a bad day, a bit of bad luck, or unforeseen circumstances that can throw just about anyone off. Don’t dwell on mistakes. Use them as learning experiences that will help you do better next time.
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Good luck in your search,