The first, biggest mistake a job seeker can do in an interview is failure to prepare! If a candidate walks into the room without a strategy, the race is over before it even began. The initial interview may the one perfect shot at getting the job. At the very least, the interview is the first step in a process.
Don’t lose your chances by staying clear of these 6 interview killers:
- Weak opening.
The opening dialogue of an interview should never be a surprise. Chances are the first question you will hear is “tell me about yourself.” If you don’t have a solid answer to that simple question, then you might as well pack it in.
- Unsure of what you are doing.
Who the heck are you? What are you doing here? Why do you want to work here? Creating a powerful “elevator pitch”—a 60 second review of the person you are and what you can do for the company—is indispensable in the interview. Write a script (a couple of sentences, max) and commit it to memory, letting it run smoothly and naturally on demand. You don’t have to tell your life’s story, so be concise.
- No paperwork.
Get a portfolio, and carry some of the necessary documents you will need—resume, samples of your work and a list of references (all of them verified beforehand). Your portfolio should not be the primary focus of the interview—that is you, your skills and personality—but you will need some back up information, just in case.
- Poor research and no follow-up questions.
One effective way to impress an interviewer is with a list of well-thought questions; it shows you have a genuine interest in the job and have done your homework. Don’t bombard them with requests, but have a few legitimate questions about the company, the job, its functions and responsibilities.
Prepare yourself to respond to “do you have any questions…” with “yes, I have a thousand questions, but my biggest ones are…”
- Not interested in the process.
Enthusiasm is an essential part of the interview process, but issues like timeline, subsequent interviews and the next steps in the method are also fair game. Always polite, an outstanding candidate will inquire about what happens next, and how long the hiring decision may take. Sincere answers will also give you an idea of your chances after the interview.
- No handshake or thanks for your time.
If, after the interview, you determine the job is not for you—don’t be rude and bail on the situation. After all, you are a professional, and you should give a positive demeanor throughout. No matter what transpires, ask for a firm handshake and thanks for the interviewer’s time.
- Vanishes after saying goodbye.
There is a lost art in interviewing—the follow-up. Post-interview is a critical time, presenting the perfect opportunity to rise above the pack. Good followup starts with knowledge; always get the business card of the interviewer. More people are sending email thank-you notes; others go “old school” with a paper note or card sent by “snail mail.” Either way, the precious few hours (or days) after the meeting can either make or break your chances; so a box of inexpensive thank-you notes can be a wise investment for your job search.