So, you’ve got a job interview for a position that you really want and feel that you would be great in. You’ve got the skills, the experience and The CV to prove it. Now all you have to do is pass the interview. Sounds easy enough, right? Not really.
Interviews are a vital part of the job-hunting experience. But, they can also make us feel incredibly nervous.
And, no matter how qualified and right for the job we are, we usually find a way to sabotage ourselves in the interview and ruin our chances of getting the job. Which, in turn, can make us wonder what went wrong and how we messed up this opportunity.
1. Being late for the interview
When you have a job interview, you’ll want to make a good impression on your possible employer.
So, being late for an interview is, clearly, not a good start.
This is because it suggests that you can’t keep track of time and are even unreliable. Both of which are key components to you being hired and your employer trusting you.
Additionally, being late for an interview can also suggest that you are not well prepared for upcoming events, which, if hired, can affect your workload and how much work you’re trusted to do.
So, if punctuality is something you struggle with, perhaps what you should do is set an alarm for the time you want to leave, so that you have enough time to reach your intended location.
Plus, arriving early for the interview will give you a chance to breathe and make any absolutely final preparations for the interview.
2. Trying to rush the interview
Everyone is always in a rush these days and you may have several reasons you need to get through the interview quickly. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have another interview straight after it — or maybe you need to get back to your current job before anybody wonders where you’ve vanished to.
But rushing an interview can suggest that you don’t want to be there, you have better things to do with your time and that you’re not really interested in the job.
So, during an interview, accept that the process takes time — and your body language can speak volumes if you aren’t careful.
3. Not speaking appropriately or with confidence
In an interview, using words like “um” and “ah” before you answer a question isn’t good. It can suggest to the interviewer that you lack the confidence to answer the question and that you’re unsure about what to say.
Similarly, repeated use of the words “like” or “I know, right” marks you as a vapid airhead without any clues about business behaviour. It may be the kind of language you might use around friends and family in social situations, but not during one of the most professional moments of your life. Swearing is also out. But if you didn’t know that, you’re probably not ready for professional life.
A good way to combat these uses of language during an interview, would be to do a mock interview with a friend or family member and practise using professional language.
4. Not researching the company before the interview
Prospective employers like to know that you are genuinely interested in working for them.
One of the ways you can do this is by researching the company you are interviewing for during your preparation for the interview.
By doing this, you not only show your interest in the position, you also show your interest in the company as a whole.
So, even if it’s just for ten minutes, have a look at the company’s website, find out what they do, who they have worked with and even write a few things down that interests you about what they do, or have done, and why you want to work for them.
5. Brining up money first
While the salary might be enticing, never let it be the reason you apply for a job in the first place. And never be the one to bring it up first during a job interview.
By being the one to bring it up first in the interview, it can come across as the reason you applied for the position and only thing you’re interested in.
Additionally, if salary does happen to come up during the interview, give a rough figure of the salary you expect, which should be based on research you’ve done on how much someone usually earns in the same position.
6. Not being self-aware
Everyone has bad habits, even if you aren’t aware what they are.
But being across what your bad habits are can really come in handy because they may be things you aren’t even aware you’re doing, especially during a job interview.
Additionally, the upside of being self-aware is that the bad habits you may not be aware of, may also be things that really get on the nerves of the person interviewing you.
So, before a job interview, it might help to ask your friends and co-workers what your bad habits are so that you can work on not doing them, even if it’s just during the job interview.
7. Answering the weakness question with thinly veiled strengths
Knowing your weaknesses is great because you will, without a doubt, be asked about them in a job interview.
But, when you answer this question, what you don’t want to do is give the interviewer thinly veiled strengths, like “I care too much” or “I work too hard”.
This is because, while being caring and working hard are great qualities to have, they may turn the interviewer off because of how obvious they are and how they lack any real depth.
So, before your interview, what might help is if you take a step back and have a good think about what your strengths and weaknesses are and even ask friends and family about them too because they may think of some that you didn’t.
8. Acting desperate
Desperation is never attractive.
So, during the interview, don’t act like you need the job (even if you actually do). Instead, act like you want the job because you think you will be able to bring something to it that no one else can.
This way, you will come across as an independent and confident person and that you have the skills and the talent to back up what your resume..
9. Badmouthing current or past employers
Badmouthing a current or previous employer is never a good idea.
Not only is it unprofessional, it can also make you sound bitter and petty about how things are between the two of you.
So, even if the two of you don’t get along, just remember that being civil about your relationship and feelings for the other person is always best because how well you got along with someone in the past is a reflection of how you’ll get along with people in the future.
10. Saying you like the perks they offer
Perks are great. Who doesn’t like perks?
But, when the perks a company offers its employees are what you like about working at the company, then you’d better reevaluate your reasons for applying.
This is because liking the perks more than the job or co-workers, suggests that you are not really interested in the job, getting to know your co-workers or even working at the company.
It does, however, suggest that you only applied for the job because of what they offer employees, like three weeks paid holiday leave or a 40% Christmas bonus. And let’s face it, that’s a bit shallow.
11. Not answering a question
Interviews do more than check if you’re the right person for the job. They also check your conversational skills and how well you do in one-on-one situations and under pressure.
So, by not answering a question during a job interview, it can seem like you have something to hide or that you’re unprepared for the interview.
Additionally, not answering a question can also suggest that you lack confidence in yourself and skills to do the job.
So, unless you’re asked something inappropriate or illegal during a job interview, try to answer every question you’re asked.
12. Mentioning personal issues
Personal issues are just that. Personal.
So, while your perspective employer may be sympathetic, a job interview is not the time, or the place, to bring them up.
This is because it may suggest that your attention will be divided between work and your personal life and that you’ll be distracted from your job, no matter how hard you try. So, while they may be hard to deal with, try to put your personal issues aside, at least for the duration of your interview.
13. Not asking questions
While it may be easier pretending you understand everything discussed in an interview, not asking questions at the end is never good.
Why, you ask? Because it can suggest lack of preparation and disinterest in the company you want to work for.
Additionally, while you may think you understand what the company does, the services they provide and what they stand for, never underestimate how having two or three questions to ask them can impress your interviewer.
So, do yourself a favor and browse the company’s website for ten minutes and just write down a few things you’d like to have clarified.
14. Answering your phone during the interview
Sure, it may be important, but answering your phone or replying to a text during an interview is a serious no, no.
This is because, not only is it rude, but it can also suggest that you are easily distracted, have other things on your mind or even that you think the interview is not worth your attention.
Besides, if you’re going to have an hour-long job interview, you should have your phone turned off anyway because, unless your mum’s calling about a dying loved one, nothing on or about your phone is more important than the job interview you’re in. It can wait.
15. Talking yourself down and out of the job
Humility is great. It’s one of the best qualities a person can have. But there does come a point when it can do you more harm than good.
This is when, during a job interview, you talk yourself down by saying things like “I’m not that skilled” or “it was really more of a team effort”.
By making these, and similar, comments during a job interview, you are essentially talking yourself out of the job because they can make your interviewer wonder if you’re right for the job, why you applied for the job in the first place and why they should hire you.
So, while it’s good to be humble, try to talk yourself up a little bit during the interview because, at the end of the day, you do want the job. You wouldn’t have applied if you didn’t.
16. Giving unnecessary compliments
While compliments are a very nice thing to give out, telling your interviewer and/or prospective employer how much you like their outfit or hairdo is a big no, no.
This is because while it may be well-intended, it could be misinterpreted as sycophantic.
But if your research has included what they do at the company — for example, if they have worked on any big projects in the past — and you want to express your admiration for those, go ahead.