My Career Space has compiled the 10 biggest interview mistakes into one simple list. This list will tell you exactly what not to do, so that your hiring manager or interviewer will get the best impression of you possible.
Mistake 1 – Not enough “matching and mirroring”.
When interviewing, it is a very good idea to match and mirror the verbal and physical style of your interviewer. This will make the interviewer more comfortable, and will optimize their ability to hear your message. Here are some tips to maximizing the physical matching and mirroring:
- Work on your handshake.
- Not enough/too much eye contact. It is a fine line to walk. We recommend working on this with a friend or family member so that you can be aware of this habit and make the appropriate adjustments.
- When seated, watch whether your interviewer is leaning forward or backward, and adjust your posture appropriately.
- Keep your head up and back as a show of confidence.
- Avoid crossing your arms and/or legs as this shows defensive posture.
Here are some verbal matching and mirroring habits to be aware of:
- If your interviewer is not jovial, do not attempt to crack jokes. Rather match their verbal cues with corresponding behavior.
- Answer direct questions honestly and concisely.
- Don’t be afraid to ask appropriate questions. This is a mutual interview, and you should ask questions to get more information about the position.
- Do not ask about vacation time or salary. Wait until you have won the employer over to have that discussion.
- Avoid verbal ticks. For example, saying ‘like’ or ‘ummm’ too many times is a verbal tick to avoid. Watch your responses try to answer all questions concisely, without rushing yourself. Get to the point without rushing yourself, and it will help with controlling your nerves and show you are confident in your answer.
Mistake 2 – Talking too much.
Watch your responses and make sure you do not take too long to answer a question, unless it is absolutely necessary. Get to the point without rushing your response and it will help with controlling your nerves (if this is a problem for you, see Mistake 6) and show you are confident in your answer.
Mistake 3 – Too much negative speech.
Negative speech is most often heard during interviews when people talk about items from their past. Be sure to not say anything negative about your past employers, and talk positively about your previous accomplishments. Turn every negative into a positive. Be prepared for questions about your past employers and achievements so you can spin the negatives to make you sound better.
Mistake 4 – Not enough research was done before the interview.
Too many job seekers apply to too many jobs. When you have the opportunity to interview, you will want to show that you are not one of these people. In fact, you want to show that you are the ideal candidate for the position. You can do this by pre-exploring the company, its issues and concerns and who might/will interview you so that you can reinforce your candidacy.
Mistake 5 – Don’t just tell about yourself.
This is one of the most important interview tips. When you have the opportunity to talk about your past, sell your accomplishments! Too often, interviewers have a mental checklist of their past actions rather than what those actions produced- tell the results of your actions. There is a huge difference between saying you did sales for a couple of years and explaining how you reached 110% of your quota for two years while going through sales training and becoming certified.
Mistake 6 – Don’t let nerves get the best of you.
Relax. Smile when it seems right. Have some fun. Treat everyone you come into contact with respectfully, including and especially the receptionist. The little things will demonstrate a lot about your character and aid in showing your interviewer that you are someone they should consider making part of their team. In all honesty, it’s just an interview. It isn’t your first, and probably not your last. Approach it as another learning experience. The two biggest contributors to nerves are a lack of preparation and a lack of clarity. Both of these can easily be remedied. For example, before the interview, take a moment to ask and answer some of the questions you are likely to hear. Practice them until it sounds and looks natural. You may want to practice this in front of a mirror. Also, before the interview, ask yourself, why am I going through this interview? Does it support your vision of the ideal job? Is the job something that you would really want to do for 40+ hours a week? It may be that part of your nerves is based in your discomfort with this particular job.
Mistake 7 – Seekers do not practice enough prior to the interview.
Perfect practice makes perfect. Refine your answers and stories so that they are natural and authentic. Ask and answer example questions until you know them backwards and forwards. Practice these responses with friends and family and/or in front of a mirror.
Mistake 8 – Too many seekers lose their focus and story.
Prior to going into the interview, make sure you are clear about your story- who you are, what you are about, and what you want to get out of the interview- so you can communicate that effectively to your interviewer. Remember that you have something to offer and that you are a good candidate for the position. Do not waiver from that stance during the interview and do not concede your positioning. Often interviewers will ‘test’ the job seeker by pausing for a long time, or by questioning statements that you have just made to see if the candidate will change their story. Do not fall for these tactics.
Mistake 9 – Remember to close the interview.
Toward the end of the interview you will want to introduce items into the conversation that have not been discussed previously but are important to your candidacy, and/or ask questions that you want to have answered. You must walk into each interview with an agenda of what you want to communicate and take the initiative to get that done. Also, interviewing is a two-way street. You should ask questions of the interviewer about things you want to know. You need them, just as they need you.
Mistake 10 – Remember to take notes after the interview.
Once you are done with the interview, take a moment to reflect. Write down important points of the conversation. Think about what was asked. What were your responses? What do their questions say about the type of person they want to hire? After your assessment, use the key talking points that you gleaned from their questions in your thank you note and be sure to practice your responses to questions you had trouble with so that next time you are asked these questions you will handle them better.