In a competitive job market, it can be pretty hard to land an interview.
When you manage to get one, it’s important to make the most of the opportunity.
Here are some common mistakes that may be stopping you from interview success – whether that means getting hired or progressing to the next stage of the hiring process.
Abandon these bad habits and your interviews will have a much higher chance of a positive outcome.
Regardless of your chosen industry, previous experience or the nature of the position at hand, professional conduct is absolutely vital.
Dress to impress at every interview you attend, even if it’s a casual work environment. Overdressing is better than under-dressing. Stay far away from sandals, short skirts, t-shirts, jeans and shorts!
Map out your route in advance, and be sure you have an alternate plan if there are any issues en-route. If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar area, you may want to test out your route beforehand. Time how long it will take to get to your interview, and allocate extra time for traffic.
Make sure you arrive on time – which means arriving early. Aim to be at the interview site 15 – 30 minutes ahead of time. Arriving too early can catch an interviewer off-guard, so be prepared to spend some time at a nearby coffee shop or other venue until it’s appropriate for you to show up.
Once you arrive to your interview, turn off your phone! If a phone goes off in the interview, you might as well get up and leave.
You read the job description and decided that you’re a perfect fit for the role – but landing the interview doesn’t mean anything is for sure.
A lack of preparation will make it harder for you to shine in an interview, particularly if you’re unable to answer simple questions about the company’s operations.
Remember: an interview is not just about your skills and experience. Capable interviewers will also be looking to assess your personal and professional fit.
Make sure to read about the business. Note things like their mission, CEO’s name, values, and services. Have a good understanding of the actual position you are interviewing for. Can you identify the major skills and experience that would make someone an asset for the role?
Don’t forget to study your own resume. Having a detailed knowledge of the company is just part of the picture – making compelling connections between the role and your own skills is vital for success.
Some organizations do interviews in a very laid-back fashion, and work hard to make the whole process feel like a casual chat.
It’s important to take your cues from the interviewer, but don’t forget the purpose of your meeting. Personal topics aren’t relevant, so don’t bring them up first.
Take care to monitor how engaged the interviewer and other participants are. If they’re talking at length about great take-out places near the office, be sure to engage and share your enthusiasm – but if you find yourself doing most of the talking, you’ve probably overstepped.
Only discuss your past experiences in terms of what they taught you and how the position you for the job at hand. Don’t focus on negatives or unproductive periods of your employment history.
When you don’t understand what a question means, it’s very difficult to compose a compelling answer. If you dive into a reply without reflection or organization, there’s a good chance you’ll say too much (and communicate too little).
It’s completely acceptable to ask for a moment to compose your answer. Depending on the interview, you may even be able to make a few notes to help structure your reply (ask, if you’re interested).
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification with questions you’re unsure of. The overall goal is to provide relevant answers to each question – it’s better to indicate that you’re willing to admit when you need more information than to grasp at straws and waste time.
Interviews don’t have to be a stressful experience. Minimizing any negative behaviours you may be demonstrating improves your self-presentation and gets you closer to being the next successful interviewee.