Common Interview Mistakes

I often assisted in conducting group interview sessions with potential job recruits who were looking to become part of our department when I worked for the local newspaper in the Orlando Florida area. After each interview, my colleagues and I would discuss the job candidate amongst ourselves and eventually decide who to pass on to the next round of interviews with the hiring manager. Below are five of the common interview mistakes potential employees made which inevitably resulted in them not being considered any further by our team:

  1. Arriving Really Late to an Interview. It is likely that anyone you are going to be interviewing with has many other duties to fulfill within their work day other than just meeting with you for a half-hour. If you arrive just fifteen minutes late, you may be infringing on another important appointment or task that your interviewer has to get to later that day. Make sure you arrive on time to your interviews, or better yet, get there five to ten minutes early. If you have a real emergency arise, call the potential employer to let them know what has occurred and ask to reschedule the interview.
  2. Not Being Professionally Dressed. No matter what the job is, always impress your potential employer by wearing business professional attire. Ladies especially need to make sure that they do not look more like they are going out to a nightclub instead of to an interview. Another common mistake women make is to show too much skin. A woman interviewer will definitely be turned off by excessive cleavage showing, or a skirt that is too short. Admittedly, a male interviewer may not be as taken aback by this, but do you really want to project a provocative dress style in front of someone that might some day be your boss? It might get you the job initially, but will end up tainting your reputation in the long-run.
  3. Not Smiling. I’m not sure if it was due to nervousness, or if potential employees thought it was unprofessional to do so, but not smiling at all during an interview can make your interviewer believe you are extremely reserved and can even make them feel uncomfortable. Try to show your potential employer that you will be a pleasant co-worker to interact with on a daily basis. If you interviewer tries to break the ice by making a funny remark or joke, it would be appropriate to respond with a smile or a genuine laugh. This is just basic psychology – if your interviewer feels liked by you, they may be more apt to like you in return.
  4. Telling Your Employer about a Real Unsolved Weakness You Have. I hate the “What are your weaknesses?” question as much as the next person. Inevitably it’s going to be asked, however, since experts say it’s still one of the most popular interview questions around. Do not just state your weakness without telling your interviewer how you have dealt with it. I remember getting answers like, “It’s sometimes hard for me to be on time”; “It’s not always easy for me to delegate responsibility”; “I have a hard time being assertive with others as much as I should be”. Make sure, after sharing your weakness, that you tell your interviewer how you’ve learned to effectively control it. Here’s an example: “I’ve had some issues with being assertive enough in the past. But I’ve read a few books on effectively managing others, and just recently, I also took a class on being more assertive. These steps have really helped me in overcoming this weakness.”
  5. Complaining About the Past. Interviewees who shared any kind of negative attitude during our interview sessions with them, were immediately disqualified from moving forward to the next round of interviews. This included sharing rants against a previous boss or former co-workers. Everyone on our interview panel agreed that disgruntled employees tend to continue their pattern of complaining wherever they go. As I’ve seen in my own job sites, an unhappy employee can bring the morale of an entire team or department down if they are allowed to continue complaining to others for long enough. Therefore, always strive to be positive and upbeat in your interviews. And, of course, continue to be this positive person even after landing the job!

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