No matter how qualified or talented you are, there are a few mistakes you can make in a job interview that will reduce your chances of getting a job offer.
Making a less than stellar first impression.
Your job interview starts the second you walk through the building doors. Be polite to everyone you meet, from the doorman to the people you ride the elevator with. Remove your headphones and put your phone away when you check in with the receptionist. This shows respect and also ensures that you won’t be distracted by a notification when someone is speaking to you.
Companies are starting to enlist the help of their teams to help choose candidates. This means that your interaction with the receptionist is actually part of the job interview, and you’ll be judged by how you treated her or him. Same goes for the doorman – did you say thank you when they opened the door or did you just walk by? The way you treat people when you aren’t being watched speaks volumes, so treat everyone you meet with respect. This extends far beyond just job interviews – we should treat people with respect at all times.
There is never a good reason to complain in a job interview. It doesn’t matter how terrible your boss or coworkers are, or how much you absolutely despise your current role. Complaining in a job interview is a one-way ticket to not getting hired.
When speaking about things that you aren’t happy about in your current role, especially when you’re asked about why you’re leaving, frame it as a learning experience. Use the framework of a very brief description of the situation followed by the lesson you’ve learned from it.
If you’re coming from a toxic workplace, speak about how your experience, both positive and negative, has helped you define your own working style and preferences. If you had a boss who micromanaged you, speak about how you enjoy a challenge of figuring things out on your own with the support and guidance of a leader.
Showing up late.
Nothing is worse than showing up late to a job interview. Besides it being disrespectful to the hiring manager, you’ll also cause yourself unnecessary stress and you’ll be in a less than optimal frame of mind going into the interview. Being early means you can dedicate 100% of your brainpower to the interview itself. If you know your nerves tend to get the best of you, being early gives you a few minutes to sit before the interview to get grounded and try to relax.
You should arrive at least ten minutes ahead of time. Remember, you might have to wait to check in at the front desk or take the world’s slowest elevator, both things that can take more time than they should. Always plan for extra time to account for traffic or transit delays, and the time it takes to walk from the subway, bus stop, or parking lot. It’s better to arrive early and sit in your car or find a café nearby to pass the time than to be scrambling and running into the interview.
Not being prepared.
It’s not just talent and credentials alone that get you hired. It’s how you show up to the interview. The hiring manager wants to see that you’ve researched the company and the role. Know the job requirements and how you can add value specifically related to points mentioned in the job description. Practice answering mock interview questions to get over any nerves you might have.
You also want to have well thought out questions to ask at the end of the interview. This of course helps you get to know more about the job and the company, and it also shows the hiring manager that you’re truly interested in pursuing the opportunity.
When hiring managers find multiple qualified candidates, it’s the mistakes that are made that set people apart – but not in a good way. Avoid these mistakes and end your interview on a high note by giving a sincere thank you to the hiring manager. Thank them for their time, the opportunity, and reiterate your interest in the job.