You submitted your resume to a job your experience is perfect for, followed up on the application process, and next thing you know you got the news that they interview you! While you can perfect the bullet points on your resume for hours, an interview is the time to give your potential employer a true first impression of who you are as an employee. Whether you are currently in the interview process or have recently interviewed, we’re giving you the inside scoop on the top 7 most common interview mistakes, plus how you can avoid them.
Interview mistake #1: Leave the fluff at home
Though it may be easy to stretch the truth on paper, it is never advised on a resume and especially not in an interview. Your resume got you the interview, now stick to the facts, your experience, and what sets you apart from the others. Interviewers can tell when you’re embellishing so be sure to avoid this interview mistake.
Interview mistake #2: Your clothes shouldn’t take away the attention from your interview wardrobe choice
One of the most common question our recruitment agency team gets asked is, “What should I wear to an interview?” yet interview wardrobe choice is still one of the most common interview mistakes we see candidates make. The key to dressing appropriately for an interview is research! If you show up to an interview in a suit and see that everyone is wearing jeans and tees, you may come off as too corporate of a candidate. When researching the company, be sure to look into company culture to ensure you are in proper attire for your interview so that you can look professional without being over or under dressed. And of course, try not to wear anything too distracting.
Interview mistake #3: Timing is everything
It should go without saying, but you definitely do not want to be late to your interview. For both video and in-person interviews, you don’t want your first words to be, “Sorry I’m late.” For phone and video interviews, it is very easy to lose track of time whether you are at work and need to step outside, or are working on another job application. Be sure you are ready with a fully charged phone/laptop battery, proper reception, talking points, and a quiet area. For in-person interviews, check traffic the day before to ensure you leave with enough time, and ask prior to your interview about parking. To avoid this interview mistake, plan to be around 10 to 15 minutes early, as there may be paperwork to fill out, but also, to give your interviewer a great first impression of you. On that note, don’t be too early, as that can lead to you waiting around.
Interview mistake #4: Don’t forget to do your homework
Going into your interview, it is important to be comfortable talking about your skills and experience, but you should also be prepared to speak to the company and position you are interviewing for. Be sure to research the company, the culture (as mentioned earlier in what to wear), and know who you’re meeting with. One of the biggest interview mistakes we see is candidates not being able to speak specifically about why they're the right fit for the company/job.
Interview mistake #5: Practice makes perfect
As previously mentioned, you should be prepared to speak to your skills and experience, but also be prepared to answer questions you aren’t anticipating. The best way we have found to prep for an interview is to have practice interviews with mentors or friends. Have them include a variety of questions and allow them to give you feedback. Being prepared to answer uncommon questions will only help you avoid interview mistakes now and prepare for future interviews.
Interview mistake #6: Actions speak louder than words
This may seem like common sense, but one of the top interview mistakes has nothing to do with you as a candidate. Be sure to silence, or better yet, turn off your cell phone to refrain from distractions, mute your smart watch, turn off any and all alarms or notifications, and be present in the meeting. While your interview may be held early in the morning or on your lunch break, it is not the time to eat, so be sure to eat after or before, and never during an interview. If you bring water, keep it in your bag and only drink if it is needed, but do not show up with coffee or a smoothie and expect it to not come off poorly.
Interview mistake #7: The backup plan
It is always important to have a plan b. For in-person interviews, be sure to have a backup means of transportation, whether that is through a ride share app, public transportation, or friend. Having a plan to fall back on is better than stressing and having to cancel an interview you’ve waited weeks for because your car battery dies. If you’re having a phone or video interview we cannot stress enough the importance of a fully charged battery. If you need to login to a video-conference platform, be sure you know your login and password information, that your webcam works, your microphone is connected, and you have a clean background set up available to you.
Now that you know the 7 most common interview mistakes and how to avoid them, you are able to go ace your interview. Remember to be yourself, let your personality and experience shine through, and know that it’s okay to be a little nervous!
For more interview tips, be sure to checkout our Upskill Workshop on interview best practices and interview mistakes.