Top Ten Interview Mistakes

To ace your next interview you want to avoid these top ten mistakes.

  • Arrive Late – It is critical that you arrive for an interview a few minutes early.  If you don’t know where you are going, do a dry run in advance.  Allow time for traffic jams and parking issues.  Demonstrate your interest in the opportunity and your professionalism by arriving a few minutes early.  Being timely also demonstrates your preparation.  Use the few minutes you have in the lobby to gain your composure and focus.  In a true emergency, if you are running late, call ahead to let them know and give them an expected arrival time.
  • Dress Inappropriately – First impressions matter.  Demonstrate your interest by showing up in a professional business suit and polished shoes.  Avoid anything flashy or distracting.  Leave noisy jewelry and strong fragrances at home.  Err on the side of being conservative.
  • Ask No Questions – Your inability to ask the interviewer questions leads them to believe you are unprepared and uninterested.  Have insightful questions prepared in advance to ask your interviewers.  Clearly demonstrate your interest and preparation.
  • Demonstrate Lack of Preparation – Never ask, “So, what does your company do?”  Do your homework and research the company, the industry and the competition.  Prepare questions in advance.  This demonstrates your interest and your professionalism.  It helps interviewers take you seriously as a candidate.
  • Share No Examples of Your Experience—Don’t just talk about your project management skills, share an example of how your applied those skills and the resulting benefit to the company.  Briefly describe the situation, how you approached the problem and the results of your actions.  Always be prepared to support your claims with examples.  Have specific examples prepared in advance that you can share when needed during an interview.
  • Have No Response to Questions – Employers are looking to see how you think on your feet.  You need to be prepared to answer any question.  Review lists of commonly asked interview questions and be prepared to answer them.  If it is an unusual question, you can always clarify the question to give you a moment to think.  Have an answer and be prepared to justify or explain it.  With a case question, they are more interested in seeing how you think than in a specific answer.
  • Say “um” or “like” Incessantly—Communication skills are an important part of any job so demonstrate your ability to communicate throughout your interview.  Avoid the repetitive fillers such as “um” or “like” which can be very distracting in an interview.   You want the interviewer to remember you for your answers and your experience not how many times you said “um.”  Take a breath and compose your answer without fillers.
  • Fail to Make and Maintain Eye Contact – The lack of eye contact leaves the interviewer feeling the candidate is not trustworthy or confident.  Establish and maintain eye contact to convey your interest and confidence.
  • Focus on What You Want – This is not all about you.  Focus on how you meet the needs of the business and how you can make a difference for the company.  They really don’t care about your specific wants.  Think about what matters to them and your interview will be more successful.
  • Fail to Say Thank You and Ask for the Job—Don’t lose the job because you fail to end the interview by thanking the interviewers for their time and expressing your strong interest in the opportunity.  Let them know you are interested, don’t assume they figured it out.  Send a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours to differentiate yourself from the competition.

If you avoid these common interview pitfalls, you should be able to ace the interview and land the job.

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