This kicks off our Interview Mistakes series. Many of these mistakes are pretty obvious – most people know to avoid them. However, in the hundreds of interviews I’ve conducted, people never cease to shock me with regard to the things they will do. Remember, in an interview you are putting your best foot forward. Hiring managers know if you can’t get this right, chances are, you won’t the job right either.
Being too informal during the interview
It’s great to be relaxed but acting too familiar with the interviewer or presenting yourself too casually broadcasts a lackadaisical attitude. This isn’t what most companies are looking for. Match the interviewers demeanor. Keep it friendly but professional.
Inappropriate attire, makeup or perfume
Know the basics of putting together a good interview outfit. For example, don’t wear anything too revealing, socks should match your slacks (not shoes), etc. You should look professional but not draw too much attention to your clothing. Perfume, including hairspray, can be a real turnoff to people, especially those with allergies.
Chewing gum or sucking on candy
This again seems too informal. A breath mint in the car on the way over should do the trick.
Being on the phone while waiting for your interview
While you are waiting for your interview, it’s best to just put that phone away. It is especially awkward if the person calling you into the interview has to interrupt you to tell you your interview is about to begin.
Not turning off your cellphone during the interview
Even if it vibrates, it’s distracting and communicates that this job isn’t the most important thing on your list today. Again, turn it off and tuck it away.
Coming in with a cup of coffee in your hand
Water is utilitarian and is seen as being prepared, like bringing paper and pens, but coming in with a Starbucks in your hand gives off the wrong impression.
Acting arrogant during the interview
Confidence is different than cocky. Bragging about past accomplishments is not the same as highlighting and relating them to the new position. You want to show how your talents and strengths will benefit your future employer. Be helpful but don’t act like a know-it-all or like you are above the process.
Being insecure and showing low self-esteem
People want to know you are confident and can do the job. Don’t be apologetic or downplay your experience. Answer all interview questions by relating what experience you DO have. Resist the temptation to say things like “I have never done that”, instead relate a transferrable skill to something you have done. Practice good posture, look people in the eye and have a firm handshake. Watch your body language for cues of insecurity. Studies have shown that standing like Superman/Wonder Woman for 2 minutes PRIOR to your interview can improve your confidence. I tell my clients to go to a bathroom stall before the interview and do this exercise. Do it every day. It works! Watch this video: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
Having low energy or little passion
This is difficult for some people, but you must find an authentic way to show enthusiasm for the position you are interviewing for. You also need to come off as positive and may I dare say, upbeat. At the very minimum you must project positivity. Even if you are an introvert, there are ways to do this that convey warmth and enthusiasm without being inauthentic or annoying.
When you push too hard you come off as needy and desperate. It’s sort of like dating; you need to appear available but don’t let them know how badly you want them. You want to leave the interview with the employer thinking– “I hope we can get her!”.
At Careerfulness, we are experts in the field of interview preparation. If you are getting interviews but not landing them, contact us today for a free consultation!