A job interview is your first, and often only, chance to make a lasting impression on your potential employer. It’s important to put your best foot forward and to start the professional relationship you hope to build with as much confidence as you can. With that in mind, here are some of the biggest mistakes candidates can make during a job interview.
#1: Arriving Late
Arriving on time might seem like something obvious, but it’s easy to be late to a job interview! You’re probably nervous, taking a bit longer than usual to get ready, and going somewhere you haven’t been before. But punctuality is key, as it will set the tone for the entire interview and leave a bad impression if you’re unprofessional during your first interaction with a potential employer or HR manager. You’ll also probably be a little frazzled if you arrive late, which can throw off the entire interview. Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination, and you’ll start your interview with a sense of calm.
#2: Dressing Inappropriately
While what you say during the interview is more important than what you wear, your outfit and appearance are part of your overall impression. Avoid wearing anything provocative or overly casual (although being overdressed can also look like you’re trying a bit too hard), and make sure you leave enough time to take care of anything personal hygiene-related beforehand. Keep it simple, and avoid any outfits with distracting prints or political messages. Dress as if it’s your first day on the job.
#3: Being Unprepared
Make sure you do your homework before arriving at the job interview. Read over the job description for the position you’ve applied for, and prepare for any specific questions you think you might be asked. Do some research into the company to find out how long they’ve been in business, as well as their mission, values, and focus. Your research will inform your answers, as well as any specific questions you might ask your interviewer. If you find out who your interviewer is beforehand, you should research a little bit about their background as well.
#4: Talking Too Much or Too Little
Your answers to interview questions should be specific and concise. Avoid rambling or getting into anything too personal. Instead, speak in full, clear sentences (not one-word answers or long stories) that directly respond to the interviewer’s question. Relatedly, try to set a balance being selling yourself and being humble. It’s important to market yourself and describe the applicable skills you bring to the table, but avoid a “hard sell,” as that will turn anybody off.
#5: Not Asking Questions
Most interviewers will conclude your conversation by asking you if you have any questions about the job opportunity. This is a key chance to turn the tables and show what you’ve learned about the company. Prepare specific questions in advance, and ask more than one question. Not asking any questions will make you seem uninterested in the opportunity or unprepared for the interview.