What *Not* to Do on Your Next Job Interview

Avoid these 10 crazy interview mistakes!

Getting a job interview is a very good sign that a potential employer is interested in you. It’s your opportunity to show the employer why you are the best candidate for the job. If you are nervous for the interview, don’t worry. It’s completely normal, and most people feel this way. Some people even say that a case of the nerves can give you the added adrenaline you need to perform well.

As you are preparing for your interview, take some time to read over these 10 interview mistakes. We hope that taking this advice will help you impress the interviewer on your big day.

Mistake 1: You stumble in late, disheveled, sweaty, and out of breath
Nothing gets an interview off to a worse start than arriving late. Complaining about the traffic won’t help. Showing up late tells the interviewer that you are not a reliable candidate.

Try this instead: Plan to arrive to the interview 10 minutes early. To do this, you may have to do some pre-trip planning in order to avoid traffic delays, parking problems, or other obstacles that may slow you down. If you are unfamiliar with the geography, you may want to arrive 30 minutes early to make sure you know exactly where you need to park and where the interview is located. But don’t go into the office that early. Wait in your car until 10 minutes before the interview.

Mistake 2: Your weak handshake feels like a dead fish
A poor first impression can start your interview off on the wrong foot. You might create a bad first impression with poor posture, bad eye contact, a weak handshake, negative body language, or mumbling. Psychology studies have pointed out the importance of a first impression. While a good first impression won’t get you the job, at least it won’t hurt!

Try this instead: Do your best to look confident. Stand up straight with your shoulders back, make direct eye contact, give a firm handshake, and be sure to smile. Articulate your words and try not to let your nerves make you talk too fast or start giggling. You should act this way toward everyone you meet at the interview, from the receptionist to the interviewer. If you are a smoker, try not to smoke before the interview. The smell of smoke in your clothing could give a bad first impression.

Mistake 3: You are dressed for a backyard barbecue
Knowing how to dress for an interview is tricky, because these days, many industries have casual dress codes. However, casual dress does not apply to interviews. If you show up wearing jeans, flip flops, and a tank top, you can say goodbye to this job opportunity! This goes for wearing scrubs to a healthcare jo interview too. Even if everyone wears scrubs on the job, you should not wear scrubs to an interview.

Try this instead: Most people will advise you to dress one level higher than the job position. With so many different dress codes, this can be hard to figure out. If you are uncertain, play it safe and wear a business suit to the interview. For more details on dressing for success, see Tips for What to Wear for Women and Tips for What to Wear for Men.

Mistake 4: You take a selfie in the waiting room and post it to SnapChat
Most all of us have become so connected to our cell phones that we can sometimes be rude. People write texts while talking to others, check their notifications every few minutes, look at Snapchat during classes, and take selfies anywhere and everywhere. Don’t be a cell phone junkie a job interview! You don’t want the employer to think that your phone is more important than your job.

Try this instead: Turn off your cell phone completely. Turn it off before you enter the office, and don’t turn it on again until you are in your car. Even if you are waiting in the reception area for a few minutes, don’t be tempted by the phone. Instead, use this extra time to review your notes and prepare for the interview. This will make you look more committed to the job.

Mistake 5: You are clueless about the employer
The interviewer will expect you to know basic information about the employer. You should be familiar with the organization’s mission and history before you step foot in the interviewer’s office. You should also know what the job position entails. If you haven’t done any research about the employer or the job, your ignorance will show through. Make sure you come prepared!

Try this instead: Spend about 1-3 hours reading about the organization. Read its website. Search Google News to look for any recent news stories about the employer. Read about the company’s leadership team. Find out what you can about their financial stability. Also re-read the job post so you are familiar with the job responsibilities. Make a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Consider these questions to ask at a job interview.

Mistake 6: You whine and complain about your terrible boss 
Whining and complaining about your current boss is never a good idea. We have all had difficult bosses before, but this is information you should keep to yourself. If you complain about your old job, your interviewer will think you will complain about the new job too.

Try this instead: If the interviewer asks you about why you are leaving your old job, keep it positive. Never say, “My boss was terrible and didn’t know what she was doing.” Instead, just focus on what you want in the new job. Say: “My current job is going well, but I am looking for a job where I can have new responsibilities and more challenges.” Keeping a positive approach will show the employer that you want to be a constructive member of a team.

Mistake 7: You “embellish” the truth (in other words, you lie)
Most of us would never dream of lying during a job interview, but believe it or not, sometimes honest people do lie during interviews. It typically happens because you are trying to say what will please the interviewer. It is usually done out of the desire to say what the interviewer wants to hear, rather than a deliberate effort to be dishonest.

Try this instead: Always tell the truth, even if this means telling the interviewer that you do not have the qualification they want. The interviewer may ask about past experience or certain skills, and if you don’t have them, you have to be honest about it. If you do accidentally lie, you can back up and simply explain that you want to clarify what you said earlier. Then offer the true explanation.

Mistake 8: You clam up. Or you won’t shut up
Talking too much—or talking too little—can really hurt your chances during a job interview. When you are nervous, you might have a tendency to clam up and not say much. Or in the reverse, you may be one of those people who chatters constantly when nervous. Both of these traits can work against you during an interview.

Try this instead: Go to your Career Services department and ask to be scheduled for interview skills coaching and mock interviews. Use mock interviews to get better at speaking freely about yourself and your skills. You want to find a balance between saying too much and not saying enough.

Mistake 9: It’s all about the paycheck
It is never a good idea to ask about a paycheck during a job interview. Even though the pay will be an important part of your job decision, the interview is not the time to talk about it. If you ask about the salary, you will give the employer the impression that the money is all you care about. The employer wants to know that you will care about doing a good job.

Try this instead: Do not ask about salary at all. Save it for after a job offer is made. If the interviewer asks you about your expected salary, be careful. You do not want to commit to a salary that is too low. Instead you can say what you understand the salary range to be for this type of position, and that you are happy to discuss it more if a job offer is made.

Mistake 10: You do a disappearing act after the interview
After the interview is over, you might be so relieved that you forget to follow-up with a thank you to the interviewer. This is a mistake! You have to send a thank you!

Try this instead: Within 24 hours of the interview, write a brief thank you email. The interviewer may have spoken with dozens of candidates, so try to include something specific from the interview to help jog the interviewer’s memory of you. Remembering to write the thank you note will tell the employer that you are still interested in the job.

Interviewing for a job is an important opportunity for your future career. Take the time to avoid these mistakes, and you can walk into the interview feeling self-assured and confident.

This article was provided by the Branford Hall Career Institute. Our Career Services department helps students become ready for the job market through resume help, mock interviews, job search strategies and more. Contact us online for more information about our school.