Career Planning

How to Ruin a Job Interview

Avoid these four common job interview mistakes.

How to Ruin a Job Interview
In a job interview, you can do 99 things right, but it’s the one thing that you do wrong that can cost you the job. With that, it’s important to look at common mistakes during a job interview beforehand in order to prevent yourself from making one. Check out some of our job interview tips for nailing the job interview -- and of course, what to do if you want to ruin your chances.

Showing Up Late

Talk about starting things off on the wrong foot – showing up late to a job interview can cost you the opportunity before you even open your mouth. It’s understandable that things can come up, like car accidents and construction delays. That’s why you should plan to be at the location of your job interview at least a half hour before it starts. Check your smartphone map app frequently throughout the day to make sure you can get to your job interview on time. Ensure that you have enough gas to make it to the interview before leaving as well; a special stop to get gas can cost you a lot on time. Arriving early will also allow you to have some time to prepare a little more and walk into your interview feeling calm.

Having a Bad Attitude

Sure, we all have bad days – but you can’t bring that energy into a job interview. You need to appear to be a hard-working, easy-going, team player. Unfortunately, a bad attitude – brought on by difficult circumstances, or a bad day – can jeopardize your ability to get the job. Having a bad attitude can be anything from folding your arms and eye rolling, to being too aggressive or cocky. Negative body language can indicate that you don’t care about the job or the interview. Being too aggressive can mean anything from treating the receptionist poorly to completely overtaking the entire conversation during the job interview. You will be judged on how you treat others as well as whether or not you let the interviewer take the lead on everything. Finally, there is a difference between being confident and being overly confident. While being confident is a quality that will translate well during the job interview, being overly confident can cost you the job. You may think that because of your qualifications or who you know may make you a shoo-in; however, you need to be humbled by the fact that you don’t know who else is applying and interviewing for the job. In all of these instances, you need to show up and act grateful that you’ve been given the chance to interview.

Talking Too Much, Not Listening Enough

When it comes to the job interview, you want to dominate the interview in a figurative sense – not in a literal one. With that, try not to overpower the conversation from your side. It’s also not the best time to share your life story with the interviewer. Try to limit your responses to remarks that apply to the actual question.
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This is also to protect you. Although hiring managers and interviewers are not allowed to discriminate based on your answers, it happens from time to time, sadly. As you answer questions, try not to bring up any illnesses, children, religious beliefs, political leanings or sexual orientation. It is illegal for interviewers to ask these types of questions, but again, it happens. The last thing you want is for an interviewer to potentially use these preferences or experiences against you – so don’t bring them up either. Just as oversharing can cost you the job, so can an inability to listen well. You’re judged based on your responses to job interview questions, so be sure that you’re answering them. Do not interrupt the interviewer, and wait to ask questions when they bring it up or at the end of the interview. Avoid going off on tangents and telling anecdotal stories. Remember to use your interview opportunity as a learning experience too! Listen and take mental note on anything new you learn.

Not Taking It Seriously

It doesn’t matter if you’re interviewing for the internship of a lifetime or flipping burgers on Saturday mornings, you need to take any and every job interview seriously. Many workplaces, have a very casual work environment, and that can be confusing for someone who is interviewing. You may be dressed in your most professional outfit while employees are sporting jeans and T-shirts. Their apparel and demeanor, however, does not give you permission to adopt the same. You also can’t treat the interview as if it’s no big deal. It’s a very big deal for those individuals who are taking time out of their busy schedules to determine if you’re the right candidate for the opening. Treat them – and anyone else you come into contact – with respect and esteem. Even if someone is rude to you. Finally, a surefire way to take the job interview seriously is to prepare beforehand. Research the company, role and field for which you’re interviewing in order to know what’s expected. Find questions that an interviewer may ask of someone in that role; and on your end, come up with a list of questions that you have about the company or role. Practice answering job interview questions with your mom, dad or friend. The more prepared you are beforehand, the more indicative of how serious you are about landing this particular job.

You’ve Got This

Whether or not you get job, the interview is a great experience. It prepares you for future job interviews as well as helps you adapt to the professional world, which will be key whenever you graduate college and launch into the real world. So, whatever the outcome or your feelings going into the job interview, give it your best.
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