The Top 10 Worst Interview Mistakes You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

Let’s cut to the chase: Interviews are hard. Trying to explain all of your life’s achievements in an hour while still trying to make yourself seem like an enjoyable person is difficult.There are probably many tips you have been given about interviews. How to prepare, how to dress, what to say and how to answer the “describe yourself” question are probably obvious at this point. But what about the less obvious flaws in your interview? What about the mistakes you don’t even know you’re making? Well we’re here to help. Here are the top 10 mistakes that you don’t even realize you might be making.

1. Checking your phone
Now this might seem obvious. Nobody wants to hire someone that cannot be bothered to stop texting during an interview. But most graduates of today use their smartphones for more than just texting or calling. You might be sitting in an interview and wonder what time it is. Many go straight for their phones, look at the time on the screen and put their phones back before they’ve even realized they’ve done it. The employer could find this unprofessional or uncaring.
2. Being too “professional”
If you are trying to be on your very best behavior, there’s a chance you could come off too cold and clinical. You need to make sure that you are being positive and acting like your normal self. Acting mostly professional might help you look good in an interview but your potential employer is also looking for someone that would work well with their company culture. They are looking for someone that coworkers would get along with and someone who fits in with their environment.
3. Vocal disfluencies
Vocal disfluencies include using like, um, huh, urm, uh and well, regularly in their speech. These disfluencies might make you look unprepared or nervous. Also watch your speech patterns if you often make every sentence end as if it were a question, speaking too fast or are speaking in other unprofessional manners, you could lose your chance at the position.
4. Too generic
After going to too many interviews, the positions might start sounding the same. You start going in expecting the same questions about the same topics and feel fully prepared to go into each similar interview. This is a problem because businesses expect you to know about their company. If you aren’t able to ask specific questions to their company or pick up on their company culture, they might see it as disinterest. Nobody wants to hire someone who just wants a job. They want to hire someone that likes their industry, their company and gets excited about this opportunity.
5. Negativity
Nobody wants to hear about other people’s drama. If you had a problem with a previous coworker, boss, or professor, keep it to yourself. Talking badly about others make you look unprofessional. Try to speak as positively as you can and move forward in the conversation. Plus an employer would think if you speak badly about a previous boss, there’s nothing to keep you from speaking poorly about them.
6. Using scholastic achievement in place of experience
Now this is what nobody in your high school or college wanted you to know. Businesses take your scholastic achievement seriously. If you did well in school, it shows you have many great skills to put forward. The issue is when you try to make school or extracurricular activities look like experience. It might be great if you were part of an organization that taught you leadership skills, volunteering for a cause and teamwork, but those are skills and do not necessarily take the place of time spent in any corporate environment. If you have never spent time in the industry, it is usually better to be straightforward about your lack of experience. Trying to place your skills that you learned in another environment makes you look even less prepared for the job at hand.
7. Saying you have other offers
The company that hires you wants to be your first choice. Telling them you have other offers might create a feeling of unease. If they interview someone after you who really wants to work with them, they might assume that the next interviewer cares more or has a more likelihood of taking their offer. You should also keep salary concerns to yourself in the first interview. If the company asks you about what you want for your salary, you can politely say that you’d rather not answer the question. Your salary is your business.
8. Not asking questions
If you are asked at the end of your interview if you have any other questions, you should. It makes you look unprepared or uninterested if you don’t have any questions to ask the interviewer. Ask about what a normal day looks like in the position or what some major goals are for the position at hand. You could even say that you can’t think of questions right now, but might have some later and ask whom you should contact.
9. The dreaded question
As the interview is ending and your interviewer asks if you have any other questions. The worst answer you can give is: “Is there any reason you wouldn’t hire me?” This is problematic because it puts the interviewer on the spot asking if you have the position, where it might not be their place to tell you. It makes them uncomfortable and will likely not get you a critical answer.
10. Not saying thank you.
If you don’t make a conscious effort to thank your interviewer after the interviewer, you might miss your chance. Make sure that you shake your interviewer’s hand after the interview and say “Thank you for your consideration” or “Thank you for your time”. You should also write a follow up thank you note. Depending on the company’s culture, this could either be a handwritten note put into the mail or a personalized email that you send shortly after the interview.

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Interviewing: A Three Step Process

You finally landed an interview for your dream job, now what? The proper interviewing technique can be broken up into a three step process: preparation, presentation, and pursue. Each step is a key ingredient in the recipe for success.

Step One: Preparation:
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is going into an interview unprepared. Know as much as you can about the company, your interviewer, and the position you are applying for. During the interview you will be tested on your knowledge of these subjects, so expect questions such as, “What do you know about our company?” “Tell me why you would be a good fit for this position specifically,” and “How do you see yourself fitting into the company?” If you don’t prepare for your interview, these questions will be almost impossible to answer, and not only does it show you did not prepare, it also seems as though you don’t really care, or you don’t really want the job. During this step, you should research as much as you can about the company, practice interview questions, have two or three intelligent questions to ask your interviewer, and have a professional outfit selected.

Step Two: Presentation:
The time has come, and it’s time for you to present your best self. The key to succeeding in this step is to stay relaxed and be confident! All of that built up anxiety and anticipation will only hold you back if you allow it to. The first component of being successful in this step is the handshake. Make sure it’s a firm handshake, you make eye contact, and don’t forget to smile! When the interviewer is asking questions make sure to sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and speak clearly. If you get stuck on a question, don’t be afraid to pause for a second and collect your thoughts. It is much more impressive to an interviewer that you carefully choose your words, than ramble off the first thing that pops into your head. Finally, don’t forget to ask questions at the end of the interview when you are prompted to. You can even write down a few beforehand, so you don’t forget in the heat of the moment.

Step Three: Pursue
This final step is often taken for granted, or even forgotten. You have made a great impression on the interviewer, but forgetting to follow up, could be your largest mistake. Taking the time to thank your interviewer, or multiple interviewers, shows that you truly care about their time and that you really want the job. Sending a simple thank you email will suffice, however, if you really want to stand out, send a handwritten thank you note on nice stationary to go the extra mile. These responses should be sent out within 24 hours of when you interview, especially if it has to go through snail mail. In your note, or email, make sure you include how much you appreciated them taking the time to speak with you, why you like the company, and reiterate why you would be the right fit for this position.

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Interview Follow Ups

Walking out of an interview can be a great feeling. You’ve gotten yourself in the door, made connections, made a great impression and now it’s just a waiting game to see if you are the chosen applicant for the job, right? Wrong! This is a common misconception many people have after interviewing for a job. After an interview it is crucial to follow up with the company to express your gratitude and reiterate your interest in the position. Oddly enough, this could be the most important step in the interview process. There are several ways to go about this and you must be sure not to cross the line of staying in touch and nagging your contacts. Here are some tips on the appropriate ways to follow up and complete the final phase of your interview.

1. Take a business card. Be sure to get a business card from each person that interviews you. If they do not offer one, do not be afraid to ask. Getting this will show them you’re interested in keeping in contact and provide you with all the needed information to reach out to them in the future.

2. Get a time frame. Ask for the hiring deadline so that you know when it is appropriate to reach out to them regarding their final decision if you have not yet heard from them. This serves as a quick reminder letting them see your interest and is a way for you to find out if the hiring process has been extended.

3. The first 24 hours are key. Email is today’s primary and fastest form of communication, so use it! Send a follow up email to thank your interviewer for his or her time, briefly highlight again why you believe you are a strong candidate and include anything important you may have forgotten to say in the actual interview. While 24 hours after the interview is appropriate, the sooner the better, so send the email within the first few hours following in order to show you are efficient and motivated.

4. Snail mail is still alive! Sending a hand-written thank you note in addition to an email will stress your interest and add a personal touch. Keep a set of stationary and stamps at your desk so you are able to write the letter and put it in the mail immediately following your interview. This does not have to be a novel, but rather a simple, sincere and to the point note expressing your appreciation.

5. Feel free to check in. If the interview process drags over a long period of time, send a quick email to keep your line of communication open every so often. Emailing the company once a week would be overkill, but if you interview in the fall and a position will not open till the spring, sending a brief email once a month is acceptable. Doing this will keep your name current and at the top of their list so when an opportunity arises you’re sure to come to mind.

Forgetting to follow up after an interview is a mistake that no interviewee has room to make and can make or break a career opportunity. Employers take time out of their schedule to interview you and it is necessary they know you are respectful of their time and consideration. Following up is easy and requires minimal time, so be sure to actively do so to protect your professional reputation and keep you in the running for your dream job!

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