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Top 9 Dumb Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Interviews

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Job Interview Mistakes

Are you making any of these dumb (as in easily avoidable) job interview mistakes? Are you sure? Walk through the list and double-check:

Mistake 1: Not being on time

Always arrive for a job interview on time. Seriously. Being late suggests you are unreliable, disorganized or disrespectful, possibly all three. Being a few minutes early is great, but arriving more than 20 minutes early might signal that you are insecure or desperate.

Mistake 2: Not doing research

If you have to ask what the company does, you have probably already lost the job. Information is readily available and if you can’t be bothered to conduct a Google search, then you probably don’t deserve the position. Human resources experts tell us that lack of research about the company is the biggest (and most easily avoidable) mistake that they see.

Mistake 3: Dodging questions

A hesitancy to answer questions will turn your interviewer off, and if you don’t have any specific stories to tell about your professional life and business triumphs, you should sit down and come up with some right now (use the Big Interview Answer Builder to get started).

Mistake 4: Rambling on…and on

Having too much to say can be just as devastating. You may impress the interviewer by sharing that you went to college on a football scholarship, but you needn’t give a blow-by-blow description of your college career or the knee surgery that ended it. Tweak their interest, but allow a little mystery to remain. Don’t dwell on trivial topics, because they trivialize you.

Mistake 5: Making it all about you

During the early stages of the interview process, don’t focus on how the job can benefit you. If you seem too interested in how the position can advance your career or line your pockets, your interviewer will take note and wonder if you are more diva than team player.

Mistake 6: Lack of focus

Remember your interviewer’s name. If you blank, don’t attempt to guess. Trust me. A bad guess will make you memorable in the wrong way.

Mistake 7: Going negative

Don’t bad mouth your current or former bosses, even if they were terrible managers and human beings. Find a way to keep it positive.

Mistake 8: General cluelessness

Boasting about your “people skills” and being a “people person” is rather cliché. It is appropriate to include people skills as part of your repertoire, but boasting about how much you love people can seem weak. We all have to work with people, with the exception of that guy who lives alone in the lighthouse. Get more specific about the types of people skills you possess — mentoring, communicating, motivating, collaborating.

Same deal with crowing about what a hard worker you are and how you routinely put in long hours. Maybe you’re just slow and can’t keep up with your job demands? If your work ethic is truly a strength that sets you apart, make sure you have an interview story about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.

Mistake 9: Dropping the ball

Always remember to follow up after the interview. It’s easy to rationalize that the employer should be the one contacting you with either the good or bad news, but you need to show your interest with a thank-you note or email before the end of the next business day.

This demonstrates your interest, your communication skills, and your understanding of common business courtesy.

Written by

Pamela Skillings

Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

2 Comment to Top 9 Dumb Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Interviews

  • Tim Advani

    Pam, great interview with Fox News saw the article. A lot of them are typical common sense but I would definitely agree with mistakes #4 (rambling) and #8 (cluelessness). I feel these are the ones that are the hardest obstacles to overcome since a candidate does want to connect with their interviewer. Good post.

  • I’ve had to interview potential job candidates once in a while at my job and I absolutely hated it when candidates arrived too early! As an interviewer, it stressed me out because now I felt rushed to get the interview started.

    People who were negative were also frustrating. No one wants to hire a complainer.