13 Job Interview Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job - 133T
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13 Job Interview Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job

September 11, 2017

Job interview mistakes are all-too-easy to make and oh-so-easy to avoid.

No job interview should be more difficult than doing the actual job. If it is, then something’s gone horribly wrong.

To make your job interview go as smoothly as possible, keep these thirteen common job interview mistakes in mind before you go. If you’re a genuinely good candidate, and you can avoid these babies like the plague, then you’ll be well on your way towards making a great first impression!

1. Dressing Inappropriately

Dressing “business casual” when the recruiter asked you to dress “business formal” is a big no-no. So is looking wrinkled or sloppy, wearing ill-fitting clothes, or donning flip-flops (even if you’re applying to be a lifeguard at the beach!).

Hopefully you asked the recruiter ahead of time what they expect you to wear. If not, some research may be in order. Check out the company on their website, and try to get a grasp for how “formal” they are.

When it doubt, err on the side of caution, and dress a tad more formally. Want some extra help? Check out our guide on how to dress to impress.

2. Arriving Late

This one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people each year show up late to their job interviews.

Set an alarm clock and give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Set several alarms, if you have them!

Judge the traffic to get to the proposed meeting location realistically, not optimistically. Err on the side of caution and imagine traffic is going to be at its worst that day.

Arriving a wee bit early is better than arriving late. Let the interviewer know that you’re willing to wait because you know they’re busy. Always wait for them, never EVER make them wait for you.

3. Arriving Empty-Handed

Even though your interviewer probably already has your resume via e-mail, bring along a hard copy. Why? Because it just looks good when you do. You’ll look prepared and ready to roll.

However, bringing along a hard copy of your resume also serves a functional purpose. It allows the interviewer to have your information directly in front of them with no extra work on their end.

4. Causing a Distraction

One of the biggest job interview mistakes is being distracting for the interviewer.

Hydrate yourself before you arrive — don’t bring a drink in with you. Having a cup of coffee or a water bottle with you (either in your hands or on the interviewer’s desk) is distracting to the eyes. You may also find yourself taking a sip at an inappropriate moment. There’s nothing quite like being asked a question right when your mouth is full of liquid…

And, please, please, PLEASE turn off your cell phone. Having your phone ring during an interview or — worse — constantly eyeing it for texts and online updates is extremely rude.

Leave your kids at home or with a trusted friend as well. Even if your interview was asked for on short notice, make the effort to find someone to take care of your kiddos. Do NOT bring them with you. As adorable as they may be, children are almost always a major distraction and not appreciated in an interview setting.

5. Not Doing Your Research

This is one of the job interview mistakes I come across most often. In addition to working for 133T, I’m the managing editor of an online publication, and part of my job entails accepting and rejecting guest writers. My main reason for rejecting a potential writer? They didn’t do their research about the publication/company.

Know at least what the public knows about the company you’re interviewing for. Check out their “About Us” section on their website and burn it into your brain.

You’ll also need to have a good grasp on what your expected role at the company is. Not knowing what the heck you’re applying for — and what you’re going to be doing if you do get hired — is a HUGE mistake.

6. Not Knowing Your Own Information

Never lie on your resume. Lies are hard to remember in the heat of the moment. (Plus, it’s just plain wrong).

If you get so nervous during an interview that you can barely remember your own name, try memorizing an “elevator pitch” ahead of time. Creating one is simple! Just state who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.

For example, if anyone asks, my name is Lauren Tharp. I’m a freelance writer and editor for hire, and I help create content for small business owners and help writers start their freelancing careers.

7. Appearing Distracted

This is another one on the Big List o’ Job Interview Mistakes that should be easy to avoid.

Give your interviewer your rapt attention. Don’t zone out mid-conversation due to lack of sleep or disinterest.

Don’t appear distracted either. Even if your eyes and ears are zeroed in on what’s being said, there are certain things that can lead the interviewer to believe you’re distracted, even if you’re not. Chewing gum, for example, is a big no-no.

Also, keep your headphones in your pocket. I don’t drive, so I take the bus everywhere, and I like to listen to my MP3 player on the journey. But I would never leave my headphones hanging around my neck during a job interview.

8. Talking TOO Much

This is one of the job interview mistakes I’m actually guilty of. I’m generally a fairly quiet individual, but, when I’m being interviewed, I go from introvert to “switched on” and start babbling. Partly because I’m nervous, and partly because I’m excited to be talking to another human being.

It takes a lot of discipline for me to “cool it” and calm down enough to let the interviewer lead the conversation — which is what should ideally be happening. Let them guide the course of the conversation. Let them ask you questions.

When you give your answers to the interviewer’s questions, go beyond a simple “yes” or “no” (unless it’s very obviously a “yes” or “no” question), and elaborate, but don’t drone on and on.

Stay away from details about your personal life, unless they’re specifically asked for. Giving out too much information (TMI) can be a major problem and a huge turn-off.

And never, ever, badmouth past employers. We’ve all had previous employers who were absolute dirtbags, but an interview isn’t the right time to mention that. All they’ll be thinking is “Wow. One wrong move and I’ll be the next person they talk smack about…” That’s not the impression you want to give.

9. Appearing Hostile

My best friend has a very angry “resting face.” She really has to go the extra mile to smile and appear friendly to outsiders — especially when there’s a job on the line.

No one wants to hire an angry employee. Even if you’re having a bad day, ditch any negativity at the door and put on a smile. Offer a firm-yet-friendly handshake.

Be aware of your body language. If you’re like my pal and naturally appear angry, even when you’re super sweet, make an extra effort. Don’t cross your arms or tap your foot or roll your eyes. Smile, smile, smile!

10. Appearing TOO Friendly

Flirting during an interview is insanely inappropriate. Don’t do it. Yes, even if the interviewer is super “hot.” You’re there for a job, not a date.

11. Not Asking Questions

This is one of the trickier job interview mistakes. You’re going to have to think of questions as you’re being talked to, while not distracting yourself. It’s a delicate balance — but it absolutely can be done.

Why ask questions at all? Well, if you don’t, the employer will assume you’re not truly interested in their company. Always ask them something in regard to the job or the company as a whole.

Make sure your questions are relevant. Don’t randomly ask the interview if they like frogs, or if they caught the latest episode of Twin Peaks on Showtime. Your questions should strictly be related to the interview.

Also ask for the next steps you should take. Follow-up calls generally aren’t welcome in this day and age, unless they’re specifically asked for. You want to appear interested, but you also want to follow proper procedures. The only way to find out what they’d like from you next is to ask.

12. Talking Too Fast

It drives me absolutely bonkers when someone speaks too quickly. My hearing in my right ear isn’t the best, and I miss a lot of words when they go zipping by my head at top speed.

Speaking too quickly also shows a lack of confidence. SLOW DOWN. Let the interviewer actually hear and absorb what you’re saying.

13. Not Being Careful on Social Media

One of the first thing modern interviewers do now, once they have your information, is check out your social media profiles.

If your public profiles show you out partying the night before the interview, you could kill your chances before you even enter the office the next day. Especially if your profile shows you partying on a regular basis.

If you have anything on your social media pages you think your employer might not like, make them private.

Did I miss any common job interview mistakes? Share the article on Facebook and let us know — we’d love to hear from you!

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.