10 Ways Not to Win an Interview
Many of the following job interview blunders are simply the opposite of the aforementioned winning tactics. They're mistakes that many job seekers often make, and they should always be avoided.
1. Arrive late. Always get to the interview at least ten minutes early. Fifteen minutes is preferable. Arriving late for anything shows a lack of professionalism, but arriving late for an interview shows that you don't care enough about the position to be prompt. Even worse than arriving late to an interview is blaming your tardiness on the company. Explaining that you received incorrect directions or that you were told the appointment was at 2
2. Appear bored. Slouching in your seat, looking around the room rather than at the interviewer, and yawning are all signs that you'd rather be somewhere else — such as at home in front of the television — than at this interview.
3. Forget to do your research. Though an interviewer is likely to tell you about the position, the company, and maybe even the industry, she is also operating under the assumption that this kind of information is not news to you. Forgetting to research the job, the company, and the industry is one quick way to eliminate yourself from the running. While it is certainly okay to ask specific questions about the company or the position, more general questions such as “What kind of company is this?” are certainly not going to score you any points.
4. Speak in a long-winded manner. When an interviewer asks a question, he wants an answer, not a thirty-minute account of your life. Be sure to answer each question with a little bit of explanation, but limit your speech to no more than a minute or two.
5. Speak too briefly. On the other end of the spectrum are the all too brief yes-or-no responses. While the interviewer certainly does not want to spend three hours in a room with you completing an interview that should have taken an hour, she also does not want to spend only ten minutes in there. Your answers should be brief, but a simple negative or affirmative is never sufficient. Always explain to the interviewer why you answered as you did.
6. Have a negative attitude. Though you wouldn't be at this interview unless you were considering changing jobs, that does not give you a license to badmouth your current or former work situation. The last thing an interviewer wants to see is a candidate with a negative attitude. Always stay positive. Even when the interviewer specifically asks you about a negative experience, speak of this as being a “learning experience.” Always end your answers on a positive note.
7. Talk about money or benefits. One mistake job seekers often make — particularly younger ones — is to emphasize the idea of money or the company's benefits package. Both you and the interviewer know that if you are offered the position, the subject of compensation will definitely come up, but you should not be the one to broach it. Even when asked questions such as “What do you hope to achieve in life?” don't talk about financial security. Always having your mind on the paycheck discredits your passion for a position and will not be held in high esteem by the interviewer.
8. Appear conceited. This is where it is important to draw a distinction between confidence and cockiness. One thing that is sure to annoy or irritate an interviewer is a candidate who has done it all, seen it all, and knows everything! While you certainly should not be afraid to talk about your accomplishments, you should be sure to emphasize the steps you took to reach these successes, and not the praise that was bestowed upon you because of them.
9. Share unrealistic goals. This common mistake goes back to failure to research the company, position, and industry. Unrealistic goals often assert themselves when candidates are asked questions such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What kind of salary are you looking for?” Failure to know the typical career path someone in your position would take — and how long it would take to reach certain turning points — is one common complaint from recruiters.
Entry-level employees who see themselves as executive material within the next five years are not living in reality. Similarly, job seekers who don't take the time to research average salaries for the job type, industry, and area in which they would like to live often make the mistake of demanding far too much or far too little money for the job. To an interviewer, this lack of knowledge implies one of two things: that the job seeker is either desperate or uninformed, neither of which will help get you in the door.
10. Appear unkempt. An unkempt appearance could include dirty or unpressed clothing, as well as clothing that is too casual. Even if the company's dress code is casual, job interview attire should be strictly professional. Hair that has not been brushed, facial hair that is not neat, and an overall untidy appearance won't work in your favor.
Always turn off your cell phone or BlackBerry before you enter the door. Being careless about this may cost you a job.