Worst Things to Do at Interviews

Landing an interview for an ideal job can be an exciting experience. However, many people make critical mistakes in their interview approach. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to interview others, you likely know some of the major things that can cause employers to pass on candidates. Regardless of your experience, there are certain things that can be red flags. 

Planning for an important interview is as much about avoiding costly mistakes as it is preparing to demonstrate positive qualities. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the five worst things to do at interviews. Making one of these interview mistakes can cost you an opportunity to move forward in the process.

1- Arriving Late

Anyone can understand that effective time management is important for employees. Whether this entails meeting deadlines on projects or simply arriving on time to meetings, it is a bare minimum expectation. The purpose of an interview is to attempt to infer how a prospective employee will work at an organization. Thus, being late is a major interview mistake. 

It’s best to allot extra time to be in the vicinity early, ensuring you can arrive a few minutes ahead of schedule without stressing. With a survey showing that 25% of people struggle to get to work on time, arriving early for the interview can put you ahead of the competition.

2- Not Being Correctly Dressed

You’ve likely heard the cliche, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This definitely is the case when it comes to interviews. Underdressing for an interview can send a message that you don’t care about the role or are not professional. 

How do you know what to wear for an interview? If possible, utilize your network to get a sense of the company culture and expectations. Perusing the company website for images may also help you get a sense of dress expectations. If you are still unsure, remember that overdressing is rarely a problem.

3- Speaking Negatively about Previous Employers

When you’ve worked at a lot of places, you’ve likely had a negative experience or two with a former supervisor or company. Some people – and organizations – are just toxic. However, airing your frustrations now is a major interview mistake. This doesn’t mean don’t talk about negative experiences; rather, you need to know HOW to talk about them. 

Use neutral language that isn’t emotionally charged. Take responsibility for your part in any miscommunications. Finally, frame it like a learning experience and focus on how the situation improved your skills and abilities. You want to come off as positive and a team player even if your frustration is valid.

4- Bad Body Language and Lack of Confidence 

Communication is not all verbal. In fact, our body language constantly sends messages. Having poor body language can unconsciously communicate negative messages in an interview setting. In fact, bad body language often makes people seem to lack confidence. How can you appear confident and composed? 

  • Sit with good posture, leaning slightly forward to show you are attentive. 
  • Avoid crossing your arms. 
  • Don’t fidget with your hands as this communicates nervousness. 
  • Make eye contact. 
  • Give an approachable smile.

5- Focusing More on the Money than the Company

You obviously want to be compensated fairly for your work. Negotiating salary is a perfectly normal part of the job search process; however, the interview is not the place to do this. You typically do not want to address pay until you have an offer on the table. Companies want to know you are interested in them and not just the money.

The interview is about convincing an employer that you will be a good fit for their needs and determining if the company is what you are looking for. Thus, avoid conversations about pay unless the interviewer brings it up. Instead, ask questions about company culture, expectations, advancement opportunities, and other things that will make you sound engaged.

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