By the time you make it to an in-person interview, you’ve made your way to the top of the general pool of candidates. You’ve also likely been vetted by one or two people on the phone, perhaps someone in human resources, a recruiter or the hiring manager. Now, it’s time to ace the in-person interview, which is a critical step in the process. It’s when both employer and candidate see if things feel right.
This is an opportunity to make a polished first impression and ask more in-depth questions. On the company side of things, it’s their opportunity to really sell you—to make you feel excited, valued and to show off all the things they can offer members of their team, from benefits to culture.
To help you prepare for your next interview, we’ve compiled a list of common interview mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Showing up late
This may be a no-brainer, but you should never show up late to an interview. Ever. We know you’re human, and sometimes you are late because of circumstances beyond your control: there was more traffic than you expected, you missed your bus, you got in a fender-bender on the way, it was raining, your alarm didn’t go off on time, and so on. Everyone shows up late sometimes...but showing up late to a job interview could be what costs you the job. To an employer, a late interviewee may indicate a late employee. According to CNBC, more than 60% of hiring managers disqualified a job candidate solely because they showed up late.
Instead, anticipate that you may be running late the day of your interview, and plan accordingly. Try out the route to the interview site a day or two before you must be there. Set multiple alarms. Don’t plan to do anything different or time-sensitive, like trying a new bus line or grabbing coffee before your interview. Check the weather, make sure you have enough gas in your car, and do whatever you have to do to make sure you’re not late. You’ll thank us later.
Failing to prepare for the interview
You don’t want to make the mistake of showing up late, and you don’t want to neglect to prepare for the interview, either. Why would you want to be eliminated from the hiring manager’s list of candidates because you decided not to research the company beforehand? This mistake is entirely avoidable because it is completely up to you.
We get it, with the stress of applying for multiple jobs and everything else you’ve got on your plate, it can be easy to miss the mark when it comes to preparing. But trust us on this one: you should always take some time to prepare for each interview. Research the company, prepare questions about the responsibilities and KPIs of your role, and be prepared to discuss your salary expectations. You don’t want to be caught off guard when the interviewer asks why you want to work for the company (or when they ask for a copy of your resume; of course you need to bring one!).
And to eliminate stress the morning of, prepare your outfit ahead of time! Wear something comfortable yet appropriate for the workplace and try it on days before the interview. Dress how you picture an employee of the company would dress, then kick it up a notch so you look put-together and prepared.
Selling yourself too short
Don’t get so caught up in the interview process that you forget to sell yourself. If you don’t give yourself credit for being an awesome candidate for the position, then how can you expect your interviewers to?
Before interviewing, consider why you are the best person for the job, what you have accomplished to get you where you are today, and how you are going to get the job done if you’re given the opportunity. Practice talking about yourself. Get comfortable with being confident (even if you must fake it). We all have things to say about ourselves, but some of us tend to freeze up the second a hiring manager asks us about ourselves. Other times, we are far too humble, and we fail to showcase our accomplishments and sell ourselves short. This is common, but you can definitely avoid it.
So, craft your your best pitch about yourself. What makes you great? What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? What is your biggest accomplishment? Why should they fight to get you? Practice answering these questions, and get used to speaking with confidence yet humility. If you can master this, then this part of the interview will be a breeze (or a least a little bit easier).
Insulting your previous workplace
Yikes. Employers like loyalty. So why would insulting your previous boss in the middle of an interview ever be a good idea? Show your potential new boss that you are a compassionate employee, not a bitter one. When the hiring manager asks about your previous work environment, take it as an opportunity to share how you will thrive at this company, too.
Instead of bad-mouthing your past work experiences, try to put a positive spin on the situation. Share what about your past positions made you grow as an individual. Maybe you weren’t challenged enough, or maybe you realized that you’d rather work in a different role. Share what about your past positions led you to this job opportunity, rather than insulting your previous employers. The hiring manager is likely asking you about your past workplace to get a feel for the environment you thrive in most, so share why you believe you would succeed at this company and what about your past company led you to seek new opportunities.
Forgetting to follow up
Ah, the follow up. The timeless yet effective way of thanking your interviewer for the opportunity to apply and letting them know that you are definitely interested in the position. There’s a reason why everyone and their parents say that it’s important to follow up with your interviewer about the position you applied for. And that reason? It actually works.
Following up after your interview is what will set you apart from the other applicants. It takes very little time to send over a quick thank-you email that will remind them of your enthusiasm for the position and your gratitude to be considered. If you haven’t heard back in a couple of weeks, send another email to remind the hiring manager that you’re eager to hear back and you can provide more information to help in the decision process, if needed.
What are the ways you have recovered from past interview mistakes? Let us know in the comments!