You have been searching for a new job, so you’ve worked on your résumé, applied to a few places and have been offered an interview. Now it’s time to practice your interview skills. To be successful in the interview process and move you from the runner-up to the person who is offered the job, here are some key mistakes to avoid.
Being unprepared. Not being prepared gives the impression that you are not interested in the position or the company. Research the company and be ready to answer basic questions such as: “What do you know about my company?” or “What interests you about this position?” Write down a few questions for the interviewer, and then ask them at the appropriate time. Practice ahead of time how you will answer questions, such as those about your strengths and weaknesses. Role playing with a friend or family member can provide you with the practice you need for a smooth, and slightly less nerve-wrecking interview.
Inappropriate attire. Dressing appropriately is essential for a positive first impression. If you are not sure what to wear, check with the company to determine their dress code. Then, dress one level above that. For example, if a company’s dress code is casual, wear business casual attire. If you are unable to determine the dress code or are in doubt, wear a suit, because it is always better to overdress than to underdress.
Poor timing. Don’t show up late for an interview; it’s inappropriate and gives the impression that you don’t take the interview seriously or value the company’s time. Plan ahead, know the route to the location and leave early. If you are unfamiliar with the area, make sure you drive by the day before your interview to ensure you don’t get lost on your way. But, don’t arrive too early. Arriving more than 10-15 minutes early may make it appear that you have too much extra time, making you look desperate. Aim to arrive about 10-15 minutes before the interview, and use the extra time to stop by the restroom to straighten your hair and clothing. If you are going to be late, be courteous to the interviewer, and call them immediately to reschedule.
Preparing and practicing for your interview can help you avoid these common mistakes and can mean the difference between an awful interview and a successful one. You’ll be ready for any interview that comes your way by remembering to plan ahead, dress appropriately and be on time.
Have you made any of these mistakes in an interview? How do you think it effected the outcome of a job offer? What mistakes would you suggest others avoid during an interview?