Did you know that in 2020, 93% of respondents to a survey said that they felt highly anxious in an interview? It’s not surprising, because while the interviewer is trying to assess whether you’re a fit for the job, you as the applicant are doing your best to stay calm, fight nerves, and prove you are the right person for the job. Interview mistakes are a lot more common than you think!
Acing an interview is a lot easier than it appears, but it does require plenty of homework and preparation on your part. One reason why many candidates make one interview mistake after the other is because they haven’t prepared enough and are unable to present their credentials properly.
Here are 10 of the most common interview mistakes that recruiters and hiring managers have mentioned, and how you can avoid them:
Table of Contents
- 1. Not doing research on the company
- 2. Arriving late for the interview
- 3. Not looking presentable
- 4. Not maintaining eye contact
- 5. Not having questions for the interviewer
- 6. Resume inconsistencies
- 7. Speaking poorly of previous employers
- 8. Using curse words
- 9. Faking the ‘greatest weakness’ question
- 10. Common remote interview mistakes
- Now’s the time for a new job
1. Not doing research on the company
Applying for a job is just half the task. Doing your reading about the company itself will give you an insight into corporate culture and the work that they do. Statistics show that nearly 50% of applicants failed the interview because they didn’t know enough about the company or the role they were there to interview for.
By doing your research on the employer you get valuable insights and will also be in a better position to discuss the business of the company and how you can contribute.
More importantly, you’ll find out if you’re a good fit for them as well. If possible, read up on their leadership team, the company’s mission and values, its place in the market, their products and services, and any recent press coverage. Depending on the job you’re interviewing for, you could get asked about any one of these things!
If you really want to ace the interview and not just ‘get by’, then avoid this common interview mistake.
2. Arriving late for the interview
Punctuality is an eye-opener when it comes to determining whether a candidate is right for a position or not. So, why do many candidates make this interview mistake then?
One reason could be that they assume they will be on time for an interview without factoring in other possibilities such as sudden showers or not getting a cab on time. Here are 3 reasons why being early by at least 15 minutes is a better policy to stick to:
Surprises do happen
Murphy’s Law says that “If something can go wrong, it will”. It’s important to factor in sudden and unexpected occurrences like your phone battery dying, getting wet in the rain, or missing your bus. No matter how much you prepare, there’s always a chance that something may not go your way on the day.
Gives you time to collect yourself
By arriving early for an interview, you give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes to become calmer, de-stress, make a trip to the loo or even grab some water. You’ll have time to go through any points you may have made beforehand as well and you will be more likely to avoid any interview mistakes.
Gives a good impression
Even if the interviewer is not present to welcome you when you set foot into the office, he or she will know if you have arrived on time or if you were late. That one interview mistake itself sets the tone for how well or badly the rest of the interview will go.
3. Not looking presentable
Irrespective of your preferred dressing style, looking presentable when appearing for an interview is very important and it’s surprising to note just how many candidates make this big interview mistake.
By not wearing attire that is appropriate for the job, you end up appearing disinterested and lazy, irrespective of your credentials. Here are 3 reasons why dressing right for an interview is so important:
First impressions matter
The manner of your dressing is the first thing the interviewer will note and judge, even before going through your resume. Overdressing for a job that has a more casual work environment and underdressing for a job that has a high profile are both interview mistakes. By dressing appropriately, you give the impression that you are a good fit for the role and for the company as well.
If you are unsure about what ‘appropriate workwear’ looks like at the company you are interviewing at, then simply check out the LinkedIn profile page to see how their employees dress.
Whether you’re applying for a job as an intern or for a higher executive role, it is vital to appear professional. Nobody likes a person who appears sloppy and who hasn’t put even minimal effort to dress up. By dressing right, you show that you have respect for the interviewer and for the post you are applying for.
When you are properly groomed and wearing presentable clothes, it does wonders for your confidence. You will be able to present your credentials in a more professional manner. Moreover, you will be less likely to make other interview mistakes too.
4. Not maintaining eye contact
A job interview is stressful no doubt, but not maintaining eye contact with your interviewer is a really bad interview mistake to make. Interviewers may interpret poor eye contact on your part as:
- A lack of confidence
- You have poor body language
- Inadequate communication skills
- You are unprepared for the interview.
Maintaining steady eye contact and a pleasant smile with your interviewer, on the other hand, shows:
- Good manners
- That you are trustworthy
- That you are interested in the interview
An interview mistake to avoid is to stare without blinking at your interviewer as that will, without doubt, make him/her highly uncomfortable. Looking away briefly while taking a pause to answer and then making eye contact again is a good way to show your confidence.
5. Not having questions for the interviewer
Assuming that an interview is a one-way communication process is one of the biggest interview mistakes that a candidate can make. Interviewers are interested to know your thoughts about the job role you are interviewing for as well as your actual level of interest in the company.
Even if you get stuck for the best of ideas, don’t make this interview mistake. Avoid asking run-of-the-mill questions which can be easily Googled. Instead, ask questions about the company’s short- and long-term goals, and their corporate culture. This shows that you want to be an asset to the organization.
6. Resume inconsistencies
An updated resume with the appropriate skills and qualifications needed for the job highlighted shows that you have put serious thought into your presentation.
You should know the details and dates that you have listed in your resume by rote.
Remembering details about your previous employment history is important as it helps the interviewer assess if you are a good fit for the company.
Another interview mistake often made is to go overboard on the use of colors and fonts which takes away the focus on your actual qualifications. Follow a solid resume structure with clear fonts and minimal fluff, and you’ll be on the right track.
7. Speaking poorly of previous employers
Whether the interviewer shows it or not, your body and verbal language are closely watched and assessed during an interview. Anything you say is noted for future reference and for further discussion. That’s why speaking badly or complaining about your previous employers is one of the more dangerous interview mistakes.
No matter how bad your experience as an employee may have been, using an interview to voice your grievances shows immaturity on your part. It makes you appear spiteful and is in bad taste. A smarter way of speaking about your employment history is by sharing an experience that may have helped you grow in a positive manner.
8. Using curse words
Organizations around the world are trying to adapt to the millennial style of working and many brands don’t even have a set definition of workwear. However, just as dressing properly for an interview is non-negotiable, so is using appropriate language. Trying to show your cool or hep side by using foul language, abbreviations, or cuss words is an obvious interview mistake and only portrays you in a bad way.
9. Faking the ‘greatest weakness’ question
There used to be a time when using the ‘greatest weakness’ question to show off a strength was considered the right thing to say, but today, it would be considered a huge interview mistake instead. Saying you work too hard, or that you’re a perfectionist comes across negatively!
Remember that it is important to come across as human, so admitting little quirks like how you need 5 cups of coffee a day or how you enjoy time on social media is absolutely ok. The trick is to make sure that none of your weaknesses dampen the image you are trying to build of being a good future employee.
Ideally, you should identify a weakness, and explain how you work to improve it. For example, if your weakness is balancing your workload, you can say that your solution is to plan ahead and work with your manager to prioritize your tasks effectively.
10. Common remote interview mistakes
The pandemic has changed the way the world works and also the manner in which interviews are taken. Even if workplaces are opening up once again all over the world, many managers prefer to take an interview online and then invite selected candidates for an in-person interview. However, there are plenty of interview mistakes that candidates make in remote interviews:
It’s important that the interviewer is able to hear what you have to say and if there’s plenty of background noise or if your mic is not working properly, chances are that they won’t be able to understand anything at all. Shift to a quiet place in the house while the interview is going on and check mic quality before itself.
Video call apps like Zoom allow you to choose a virtual filter or add a photo of your choice. Blurring your background is a good option to consider but ensure that the background is neat and clean.
Positioning of your webcam
One of the biggest interview mistakes that candidates make is to position the webcam in a poor way. You should be seated comfortably with your torso and face being visible to the interviewer. Avoid keeping the webcam on to one side.
Poor internet connection
One of the best ways to check if you are visible and audible on a video call is by having a video chat with a family member or friend first. If for some reason, your internet connection is very poor or there’s a power outage, it is important to let the interviewer know beforehand.
Now’s the time for a new job
As of August 2021, it’s estimated that 55% of Americans, realizing that life is far too short, are actively looking for new jobs. However, the great news is that Covid-19 has also thrown the doors open to a lot of opportunities that weren’t there before.
Whether you’ve just graduated, were laid off, or are simply looking for a career change, then now is definitely the time to spruce up your resume and start thinking about what kind of job you’d like.