Searching for a job is hard — and nailing the interview can be even harder. From choosing an outfit that’s appropriate (and chic) to rehearsing an elevator speech that’s intelligent (and funny, because hello — you have a personality), it’s fair to say interviews can be scary, and preparing for them can be completely stressful.
Regardless of what career field you’re in, this is your chance to make a good impression as a person and show the benefits of why you should be hired as a professional. Although it’s natural to feel nervous during this process, here are seven common interview mistakes to avoid in order to put your best foot forward and prove you’re the right candidate for the job.
1. Negative body language
Actions speak louder than words — and you crossing your arms while staring at the interviewer’s desk accessories is probably one you don’t want to indulge in. Even though it’s understandable to want to take in the company environment, it’s unnecessary to appear distracted while doing so. Sometimes it’s not so much what you say, but how you present yourself as you say it — thus, be mindful of your body language and remember that there are other ways to express your interest besides verbally stating it.
2. Lack of preparation
Despite the things in an interview you don’t have control over, your knowledge on the company isn’t one of them. Do your research, prepare your questions, pitch your ideas, and be confident that you’ve done everything in your power to ensure you’ll stand out from the other candidates — instead of getting lost in the crowd of them. By putting in the extra effort, you’ll not only feel more relaxed during the interview, but will also prove your willingness to learn — and have answers that reflect this.
3. Showing up late
If we’re being honest, being late is a trait that no one approves of — and having it as a first impression is one that’s truly disappointing. From unpredictable traffic to impossible parallel parking, the reasons for your potential tardiness are endless — which is why you should take the time to prepare for any inconveniences beforehand. Leave earlier than usual, call and ask where you can park, and know yourself enough to work with your schedule to show up (on time) to every obligation you’ve agreed to.
4. Overlooking the small talk
While this isn’t the moment for you to open up to your interviewer about how you almost didn’t apply for this job because it’s a 27-minute commute from your house, it’s a great chance for you to showcase yourself as a person — instead of just as another candidate. Whether it’s how you both share the same alma mater or how you’re both shameless fans of The Bachelorette, be yourself and relax. Ultimately, your greatest assets aren’t just your listed skills on a resume — but who you are off paper.
5. Failing to elaborate on answers
So you’re a team player who thrives in a group setting — but why? Sure, your interviewer could be excited to hear this, but your ability to share the lessons you learned through your monthly collaboration with a past coworker is what will keep him or her engaged by it. Although spewing out positive traits about yourself is a good start, taking the time to give personal examples that represent these traits is the ideal finish.
6. …Or obviously memorizing and reciting answers
Practice makes perfect — unless you’re strictly relying on what you’ve prepared to get you through an interview. Even though it’s easy to fall into the trap of memorizing answers word-for-word, keep in mind that the reason you’re practicing is to expose yourself to typical questions and to collect your reasons on why you’re a good fit for the company.
In general, rehearsing gives you an idea of what you want to say (instead of a script that you have to follow in order to say it). You aren’t a robot — the goal of an interview is to be as personable as possible and reciting answers will show anything but that.
7. Forgetting to follow up
The details are always what make the difference. With this being said, remember to have a contact ready so that you can send a thank you email (preferably within 24 hours of the interview) to the person you spoke with. Depending on when you were told you would hear back, remember to also follow up in a timely manner. Even though we can’t guarantee the outcome of this interview process, be proud of your effort — and be positive with what’s to come next. After all, some of your greatest breakthroughs are waiting for you.