The big interview day has arrived, and you’ve spent time doing your homework – interview questions, company research, etc. But interviewing for a new job is serious business and the stress can sometimes be overwhelming. Not knowing what will happen during the interview (the types of questions, how you will interact with the interviewers, etc.) combined with the pressure of finding a new job can lead to some fatal errors during the process. Read on to identify some interview traps that may keep you from landing your dream job.
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- Don’t fall for the “casual is okay” trap. You need to dress the part and the way you dress will cause people to perceive you in certain ways, right or wrong. The safest way to go is to dress in business attire (e.g. clean suit). You don’t have to worry about being overdressed and, even though some employers may permit you to dress more casually, don’t take a chance on your interview. Take a look at Tips to Dress the Part for the Interview.
- Don’t be late (rather basic). If possible, take a trial visit to the interview location so that you know how long it will take to get there (and you know where it is). Once you know how long it takes, add 20 minutes to that so that you have extra time in case of some unknown delay (like slow public transportation) – you never know when might need the extra time. Although you may arrive to your location early, don’t contact the interviewer until 5-10 minutes before the interview (you don’t want to appear too eager).
- Lack of confidence is a common mistake. There is a delicate balance between having confidence and being arrogant. No one knows your background better than you. Be proud of your accomplishments and don’t be shy when telling your story. Your handshake and initial interaction will be the “first impression” that the hiring manager will have regarding your self-confidence. Believe in yourself.
- Don’t ask about benefits during your first few rounds of interviews. Keep in mind that your earliest questions may be perceived as topics you’re most concerned about when considering the job so your early questions should be focused on the company and position. If the interviewer communicates the company’s benefits with you, feel free to ask one to two questions about the policies that the interviewer has already discussed.
- Failing to give examples of how your experience aligns with the job opportunity. Focus on accomplishments and specific experience that demonstrate you are the right person for the job. This, of course, is all part of your “homework” prior to the interview (see 15 Tips for Improving Your Job Search).
- Failing to know about the company will likely cost you any hope of an offer. As a follow on the “homework” comment above, if the interviewer doesn’t ask you specific questions about the company, they are likely to ask you “why do you want to work here”. Let the interviewer know that you studied the company and thoughtfully chose it as a future employer. Take a look at How to Build a Job Search – Company Research Revisited.
- How much are you worth? Not a good time to answer that question if you can avoid it. If, however, the interviewer asks you what you’re expected pay is, try something like “it’s not about the salary, it’s about the job and the opportunity”. You can also indicate that if you are the right person for the role, you are sure the compensation will be fair.
- Don’t underestimate the importance telephone interviews. You need to ace your telephone interview to make it to the in-person interview. Telephone interviews are difficult because you (and the interviewer) can’t see expressions and other conversational gestures (not to mention eye contact). There are a few things you should think about. First, pick a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. You also have an advantage, you can keep all of the notes you need handy so that you can answer those difficult questions. Take a look at 10 Telephone Interview Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make.
- Forgetting to say “Thank You”. While some think Thank You notes are no longer necessary, this is not true. Thank you notes are an important part of the interview process. This is your opportunity to let the interviewer know why you are the best person for the job – 5 Ways to Ensure Your Thank You Letter is Noticed.
If you’re serious about landing your dream job, you need to be serious about your interviews.
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Good luck in your search,