Back to Basics: 8 Interview Mistakes You Should Never Make
There are many things that can go wrong in an interview, whether it is over the phone or in person. Here are some interview mistakes that you can avoid, along with a few pet peeves of mine.
- Dress professionally – This one seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised. It does not matter what the dress code is at the company or what position you are interviewing for. If you are going in for an interview you should be wearing a suit if you are male or a nice pantsuit, skirt suit, or dress if you are a female. There is one and only one exception I have come across; one company advised my candidate not to wear a suit because he was going to be there all day and they wanted him to be comfortable — in that case you should follow their instructions while still looking presentable.
- Bring a notebook – You can make notes ahead of time to help you remember key points, but most of all, taking notes during the interview (when appropriate) will show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
- Don’t be late – Make sure to plan for anything that may happen (e.g. traffic, train delays, parking issues) to ensure that you are not late. There are very few acceptable excuses for being late to an interview; first impressions are everything.
- Don’t be too early – You should walk in the door 5-10 minutes early. Any sooner than that and you are putting pressure on the interviewers to start early. If you arrive in the area exceptionally early due to following point #3, grab a coffee or walk around the block — do something to pass that time.
- Ask Questions – Asking questions is a great way not only for you to extend your knowledge about the company and the position but also to show that you are interested in learning about the company and the people who work there.
- Listen – It doesn’t matter if you know everything about the company and have the job description memorized; listen to what the hiring manager has to say and don’t cut him or her off, even if you already know what they are telling you. Doing so only makes you come off as rude and arrogant.
- Don’t look at your watch – Make sure you keep your schedule open for at least another hour after the interview is scheduled to end. If it’s going well, it may go over. Looking at your watch or being in a rush will only hurt you and make it seem like you are not taking the interview seriously.
- Send thank you notes – These days this has changed into “Thank you emails,” which makes sending them even easier and an even more ridiculous step to skip. Send a quick thank you note to every person you met with. Thank them for their time, express your interest in the position, and outline the key qualifications that make you a match. If you met with multiple people try to send a different email to each of them to show a personal touch (they may compare notes).
These may sound like trivial tips, but it is jaw-dropping just how many candidates don’t take this simple advice. If there’s one thing you can do to put yourself in a better position to get the job, it is to not leave anything up to chance. Getting a job is hard enough; don’t make it harder by ignoring formalities and making simple interview mistakes.