Everyone has been in the position of looking for a new job, sometimes passively, but more often people find themselves actively looking. After reaching out to their network, going through job boards, and contacting target companies, they get to the interviewing stage of their search. At this point, you can assume you have the qualifications to perform in the role. The interview goes well and yet you receive a form letter letting you know you won’t be moving forward. Without knowing it, you may have made an interviewing mistake that ruined your chances.
Job interviews are your first chance to make an impression on an employer. It could be a human resources person, your potential boss, a peer, or people on the team you’ll be managing. If you make a mistake, no matter how small, you could be out of the running for the position and you’ll likely never know why.
First impressions are important. We’ve all seen statistics that say it may take as few as a couple of seconds for a first impression or judgment about you to be made. That is not to say the judgment is correct, but perception is reality when someone doesn’t know you.
And it’s not just your abilities they are making a snap decision on. They will be looking at your personality, your trustworthiness, the way you speak, the way you present yourself, there are a variety of factors that you don’t think about that you are being judged on.
Understanding interview etiquette helps you present yourself in a more positive light. And knowing common mistakes means you can prepare yourself in advance so you don’t make them. Below we review interviewing mistakes as outlined by Korn Ferry, which is one of the largest retained search firms.
Lying, Exaggerating, Inflating
If you feel compelled to make something up, cover something up, or overstate something in your past, ask yourself why. Everyone has been let go from a job and there is no stigma attached to being unemployed. Be honest and appropriate during an interview. In today’s technology-enabled environment, people can fact-check more easily than ever before.
Arriving late, no matter the reason, is going to give a very bad first impression. It indicates that you are not able to effectively manage your time. While it may be completely out of your control, the lesson here is to be ready much earlier than necessary. Think of it as getting to an airport before a flight.
No Relevant Accomplishments to Share
If you don’t have a shortlist at your fingertips that highlights your leadership, decision making, management techniques, etc., you’re indicating to the employer that you’re not proactive or strategic in your preparation. Having concise stories that illustrate your accomplishments will reduce anxiety when asked during an interview.
Talking Too Much or Too Little
This is a fine line that you need to practice on your own, with a coach, or a trusted friend. Answers that are too short may indicate that you don’t have an answer, and answers that go on too long indicate that you are either providing too much superfluous detail or you’re simply talking, hoping something relevant will come to mind.
The longer a job search goes on, the more of a sense of urgency we feel to find a new position. This is normal for a majority of the workforce, as cash flow becomes a bigger concern. The right role will present itself and it’s important to have an awareness during the interview so you don’t convey desperateness. Smile, make eye contact and breathe to keep your composure.
Have a Remote Backup Plan
Video conferencing is how a lot of interviews are taking place today. Make sure you have tested your audio and video prior to the interview. Have a secondary way to connect if something happens and your primary way isn’t working properly. It will take some time and work on your part, but the result is an interview where you’re able to focus on being your best.
Remember, you wouldn’t be in the interview if they didn’t think you were qualified. Their impression of you on paper is good. Now is the time to focus on making sure you’re prepared to speak to what they saw that they liked in the first place. By being positive, enthusiastic, respectful, and natural, you’ll have taken a great first step towards making a positive first impression.
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