Interview Buster #1: Not Knowing the Company
This seems to be a no-brainer, but knowing about the company extends beyond knowing who the CEO is. It’s always good to know the history of the company – but honestly, that doesn’t help you. It gives you a nice background on how they got started, and possibly on the company culture. But to answer what you know about the company, you should always focus on current news about the company. On trends in the industry and how the company is addressing them. It is a good idea to weave in good “follow up” questions about the company here and turn this into a conversation. Not knowing the company you’re applying to must be the worst thing to do wrong.
Interview Buster #2: Forgetting the Names of Your Interviewers
If someone takes the time to meet with you, to then possibly offer you a job to give you a lot of money, the least you can do is remember their name! If you happen to forget, just don’t mention their names. It’s really easy. You are talking to them, no need to mention their names. Ask for a business card in the end, and the name is right back.
Interview Buster #3: Talking Smack
Don’t talk badly about your current or former co-workers. Don’t talk badly about your current or former boss. Just don’t say anything negative at all. Keep it positive. If your answer contains a negative element, put a positive spin on it, explain it rationally and end on a high note.
Interview Buster #4: Not Asking Any Questions
In the end of every interview, the interviewer will ask you if YOU have any questions. Be aware that the interview is not over – this is part of your evaluation. You should always have SOMEthing to ask. During the conversation, all of your burning questions may have been answered, so have your standard questions ready. You should always have some questions. It shows you’re curious, you’re prepared and you have done your research (and have extra questions because of it).
Ideally, you want to connect your questions to something about the company to show you’ve done your research. You basically ask follow-up questions to given information.
The best advice I have ever received about asking the interviewer questions is to make them about THEM. Ask questions about how you can help THEM. What THEIR idea of the perfect candidate is, and what you can do to improve your work performance there. What can you do to assist them in the best way? What programs/software/techniques should you catch up on? Those kind of questions exhibit the willingness to follow, listen and help… and ultimately show that you care about getting this job.
Interview Buster #5: Talking About Personal Stuff
Whether it’s your kids, your boyfriend, your church service last Sunday, your last frat party… if you can, don’t mention any of it. There are several reasons for not talking about these things.
First: It makes you look unprofessional. You’re not at the therapist’s. You’re talking to a professional who is interested in your professional performance.
Second: It might eliminate you from candidacy. Maybe they don’t want to hassle with someone who has kids. Maybe they don’t like your religion. They will never tell you because you might sue them, but it is a possibility. Most likely though, they won’t hire you for it because (see “first”) it makes you look unprofessional.
Third: It makes you look distracted. Why are you talking about your last frat party when you could use your time telling them why you’re qualified to do this job? Is this how you’ll present the company? How you will talk to clients? To customers?
Interview Buster #6: Not Knowing the Proper Answers To Questions
Granted, there are no cookie cutter answers for most interview questions. But you CAN know the most commonly asked questions and prepare good answers. You CAN learn the concepts of why certain questions are asked and be prepared for them. So make sure that the answers you are giving aren’t just theoretically right, but that they actually reflect the answer expected of that question. Answer the question behind the question, and follow the right pattern.
Interview Buster #7: Showing Up Late
Not only should you not be late, you should be early. Being just on time is almost as bad as being late. Again, several reasons here.
First: Whether you’re just on time or late, you’ll probably be exhausted from rushing to get there on time. You might be sweaty, have to go to the bathroom with no more time, be out of breath… there’s a number of purely visual things that are just off for that oh-so important first impression.
Second: If you’re late or just on time, you will have no time to talk to the front desk person. You didn’t know you should be talking to THAT employee? Your interviewers will go to that person after you’re gone and ask them what they think of you. So come a bit early, be natural, be nice, make some pleasant small talk. Show your good energy!
Third: If you’re late, you will not be hired for basically certain. If you can’t be at least on time for such an important appointment, you cannot be trusted. Moreover, you show that this is really not all that important to you.
Interview Buster #8: Chewing gum
Yes, there’s a need to really mention this one. Particularly because you’re so concerned about your breath when going to an interview, you put gum in your mouth on your way there… and then you forget to take it out. Make it a point to take out gum before leaving the car… because you might not get a chance anymore after. A better alternative: Use breath mints. They just disappear!
Interview Buster #9: Not Bringing Your Materials
Ok, this is not exactly a buster, but it’s certainly a plus to not do this (oh my, there’s a double negative here!).
Come prepared with a notepad, a pen and a neat briefcase that contains several copies of your resume, your references and your portfolio. It’s ok to have your questions written down. It’s ok to take notes during the interview. Keep it light – you do want to make sure you maintain eye contact and stay focused. This is a technique, however, that makes you look smart. You know what to do in a meeting. You know how to take notes to remember everything later.
Interview Buster #10: Not Connecting With the Interviewer
There are several ways you can connect with your interviewer. If you can’t make a connection, they’re either not going to remember you at all, or they will have a neutral to negative impression of you. So how do you make that connection with a total stranger in a professional way while being nervous, you ask? Good question!
Make some light small talk before starting the interview to set the mood light.
Keep eye contact, but don’t stare! It’s easier said than done, especially when you have to think about what you’re saying. It’s easy for eyes to wonder.
Be interested in your interviewer. Let me say this very clearly: This does not mean flirt with your interviewer! It means ask questions about their career, their career choices, their jobs, how your job would relate to theirs. Everyone likes talking about themselves. Remember to actually be interested in what you’re asking.
Give a firm handshake. Don’t hurt them, but do make sure your enthusiasm translates into your handshake.
Keep a smile on your face and keep it natural. Don’t make forced conversation, don’t be nervous. Don’t keep rambling. Be yourself – just be the best version of yourself. With a smile on your face and a sparkle in your eyes!
Click HERE to tweet this.