Never assume that a job interview makes winning the job a sure thing. You might know you are up for your dream job and that you are thoroughly qualified. The fact is, however, that hundreds of highly qualified and competent people blow the interview every day.
The interview can be your opportunity to show who you are and what you can do. But you can also communicate a number of negative messages that could cost you the job.
Here are the top eight ways to blow the interview.
1. Leave everything for the last minute and trust chance so you will be late.
Don’t let this happen. Take the time to make a trial run or two so you know how long it will take you to get to the interview. Also, have a secondary route planned in case of something unforeseen. Have your clothes ready the night before. Don’t try a new hairstyle on the morning of the interview. Leave nothing to chance, and look your best.
2. Don’t worry about your appearance; it doesn’t matter.
Do not deceive yourself about this. Your appearance matters. You need to be dressed appropriately for the role you want to win through the interview. And it never hurts to overdress as long as you look professional. Allow time to make a last-minute stop in the restroom to comb your hair, check your appearance. Your appearance will matter to the interviewer. Your appearance will be viewed as an indication of your attitude toward the job and the company. Also, looking your best will give you a bit more confidence. The better we look, the better we feel!
3. Don’t worry about filling out forms. Once they meet you it will not matter.
Complete every task completely and carefully. Look at it as part of the job. If you cannot be bothered to complete the application form, why would an employer think you would bother to finish a job? Review critical facts and dates in advance or make notes before the interview. Always have a copy of your resume in hand for reference.
4. They need to think about what I’m saying, not what I’m doing.
Never, ever, underestimate the importance of non-verbal communication. The messages you convey without words are just as important as what you say. When the two seem to be in conflict, your body language will probably be considered more accurate. Don’t wiggle and squirm; don’t play with a pencil or your hair; look at the interviewer, control your facial expressions.
5. I Just Need a Job.
Even in a sluggish economy and a time of staggering unemployment, the focus of the interview is never what you need. Instead the focus is what you can offer the company. You need to communicate interest in and enthusiasm about the job for which you are interviewing. What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish? Where do you want to go after you give what you can to this job? What do you want from career and life?
6. Underestimate the need for preparation.
Many people believe they will just be talking about themselves in the interview. As a result, they fail to review the job description or prepare questions about the job or the company. When an interviewer asks about a specific item on the resume, they have no response prepared and they stumble. Review the resume in detail; refresh your memory about dates and details. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask and a list of points you want to make.
7. Who cares what the interviewer has to say. All you need to do is answer direct questions.
A surprising number of people go to interviews without adequate rest and without a clear focus on an agenda for the interview. As a result their attention wanders – especially if they just want a paycheck – and they communicate either lack of genuine interest in the job or general rudeness. Lists of questions and points will help you listen more attentively.
8. They will learn everything they need to know from the interview; there is no need for references.
In fact, you should have a prepared list of references you can give the interviewer before you leave the interview. Be sure you talk to these people before you put them on the list and get their permission to do so. It is also a good idea to know what kind of reference they will provide. Don’t risk having a name on the list of someone that will provide negative comments. Then notify them to expect a call after you give someone your list.
Learn to avoid these mistakes and you will enjoy a far more positive job interview.