Advice & Resources

Top 6 Mistakes That Could Cost You an Interview

Interviewing for a job is something that none of us particularly enjoy doing. It means being under scrutiny, trying to show our best side and making ourselves appear to be the perfect fit for whatever role we're applying for. We can't lie but at the same time we're not really being 'ourselves'. We have to sell ourselves but without coming across arrogant… and with so much riding on a positive outcome, we spend the whole time fighting off nerves as well.

And even if you do get everything right and answer every question perfectly, there are a few mistakes that can still undermine all your good work and cost you the interview. Let's take a look at six of the most common ones to avoid…

1 Forgetting to do Research

If you go for a job at IBM and you don't know what 'IBM' stands for, then you're going to come across as ill-prepared. In turn, that suggests you're not a great forward-planner or you don't really care that much about the job. That's not a good thing either way! Make sure you know all the details you can pertaining to both the company and the role you're going for.

2 Misjudging the Dress Code

One of the most common mistakes you can make at an interview is to dress inappropriately. That means dressing in something too revealing, dressing in something too casual or even dressing in something too smart (think tuxedo or ball gown). The ideal dress code for the business you're applying to will vary but for the vast majority of interviews, the usual advice is to wear a simple suit.

3 Arriving Late

There's simply no excuse for arriving late. Sure, you probably have an excuse but don't expect it to hold water – even if it's a good one. Aim to get to the area at least an hour early and then wait outside somewhere with a cup of coffee. This also allows you to stroll in calmly instead of rushing in bothered and sweaty.

4 Being Interrupted by Your Phone

Turn your phone all the way off before you head into the interview – you don't want it ringing and interrupting you during a conversation. Equally, make sure you don't get it out to check the time or WhatsApp; it's rude and disrespectful.

5 Being Overly Nervous

In theory, there's nothing wrong with being nervous in an interview. If you're shaking and stumbling over your words because of it though, then you're going to hurt your own performance.

One quick tip to help you deal with nerves is to stop and take deep breaths which will engage the parasympathetic nervous system and stave off the fight or flight response. Another tip is not to fear your stress response. A more rapid heartrate is normal and if you embrace it, it won't be as much of a problem.

6 Not Being Yourself

And lastly, just try to think of this exchange as a conversation. Don't be a show off, don't lie about your credentials and don't respond to questions like a personality-less robot. You're trying to impress the other person yes but ultimately you're either right for the job or you're not, so there's no reason to get incredibly stressed at this point. And remember: they're just people too and they're going to have to work with you. Try to come across as someone friendly, keen and honest and you'll have given yourself the very best shot.

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