Job Interview Mistakes You Should Avoid

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job interview mistakes to avoid

Typical advice to job candidates concerning job interviews often goes along the lines of, “Be honest; just be yourself.” That’s actually terrible advice, however, since many job candidates don’t have a clue what that means in context. The advice should perhaps be amended to, “Be candid but discreet; be your professional self.” Here are some common job interview mistakes that candidates make which you should avoid.

Misinterpreting the context of a question.

Here is a great example of a situation where you want to be your professional self—not your generalized self. Job interviewers often throw questions like these at job candidates: “What do you want to do with your life?” “What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years? What is most important to you?” These questions are meant to throw candidates off-guard and get a candid response. But they are not questions about your personal life. You should always, always frame them properly in your mind: “What do you want to do with your career?” “What are your professional goals in this industry?” “What is most important to you in the workplace?”

Answering your cell phone.

Do not leave your cell phone on during your interview. You may even want to skip bringing it altogether. Having it ring during a meeting can disrupt the flow of the entire interview and also make you look like you’re rude and careless. And if you answer it? That just shows the employer how far down your priority list the job is.

A weak handshake.

There are few things worse than a bad handshake. This includes not only weak handshakes, but also overenthusiastic ones (your hand should not be a vise). You don’t want to have a sweaty palm, either. Set your hand palm-up on your thigh while you wait for the hiring manager to appear. This will ensure it is dry when you shake hands, even if you are nervous.

Being negative about a past employer, even if you quit or you were fired.

You have to find ways to turn everything that comes up in an interview into a positive. Focus instead on what you learned and how you’re now ready for a better opportunity, and then press on quickly to the next topic.

Not asking questions.

If you don’t ask a couple questions of your own, you may appear disinterested. Asking smart questions proves you are interested, paying attention, and are serious about the conversation.

Those are just a few common interview mistakes that job candidates make when they turn up at their interviews.

There are dozens more—being too early (or late), dressing inappropriately, being rude the receptionist, failing to establish rapport, discussing hours or salary too early, and so forth. Practice with a friend or sitting in front of a mirror before you go to your interview, so that you don’t get caught off guard as easily. But also be ready for surprises, and be prepared to deal with the unexpected when it arises.

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