No one ever said interviewing was easy! Job interviews have a way of making even the most polished person a little nervous. In fact, according to a recent study, a whopping 92% of adults are anxious about job interviews. So at the very least, you’re not alone in your dislike of job interviews. However, that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll probably need to attend a few throughout your career. Here are a few ways that your job interview can get off track and kill your chances of scoring a callback.
you seem disengaged
Office chairs aren’t known for being the pinnacle of comfort, but that’s no excuse for bad posture or sloppy body language. Sit up straight, and ensure that your body language conveys interest, particularly when your interviewer is talking. People have a natural tendency to lean in when they’re interested in something, so use that to your advantage. Also, avoid clasping your hands in your lap and sitting like you’ve been ironed into place; you’ll come off as rigid and unapproachable. Talk with your hands (it shows passion!) and don’t be afraid to show a little personality, within reason! Find your balance between professional and approachable.
you aren’t paying attention
The foundation of a good interview is listening. You might think that as the one being interviewed, you’ll be doing most of the talking, but you’d be surprised how many cues there are to pay attention to. They’re not all verbal, either. Notice your interviewer’s body language. Did they nod along with something you said? Maybe you should expand on that point. Did they grimace at one of your answers? Perhaps clarification is in order. Simply being actively engaged in the interview and using the give-take format to your advantage will get you far. A job interview should be a conversation, not just you talking at your interviewer.
After a while on the job recruiters and hiring managers develop a pretty strong bullshit detector. There’s a good chance if you’re lying through your teeth about your qualifications or work experience, they’ll pick up on it. Getting caught in a lie, no matter how insignificant it might seem to you, is an instant deal breaker for many employers. Just don’t do it. The risk isn’t worth the hit your credibility will take. Even if you have minimal experience, there are ways you can frame your experience that don’t involve making stuff up or embellishing your qualifications.
you’re a complainer
We get it, you’re leaving your current employer because you’re miserable. You loathe your micromanaging boss. Your coworkers are slackers who have no qualms dropping their workload on you. And to top it off there’s that guy in accounting who microwaves fish for lunch every day without fail. It’s a terrible situation, and we feel for you, we really do. But it’s still no excuse for bad-mouthing your current work situation. No one likes a complainer who thinks they’re always the most hard-done-by person in the room. Suck it up and focus on the positives, even if you need to whip out a magnifying glass to find them. Positivity and an upbeat attitude will come off better in an interview setting.
you’re asking basic questions
Do not, we repeat, do not, ask a question that could be answered by a simple Google search. Do your research before you go on the job interview. You should be able to answer simple questions about what the company does, who the CEO is (yes, some companies will ask), the sector the company is in, and the role you applied for. Always reread the job description immediately before the interview and spend at least 10 minutes researching the company as a part of your interview prep work.
you’re dressed inappropriately
The idea of what constitutes appropriate work wear has shifted a lot over the last few years. These days, many companies eschew traditional business casual dress codes in favour of letting employees choose how they dress for work. However, those rules don’t apply in an interview setting. You’re expected to present your best self, and that means dressing like a professional. So don that suit and tie, pencil skirt, or a nice pair of slacks. Unless your interviewer explicitly tells you that a casual look is fine, it’s best to assume that a professional dress code is expected. Avoid jeans, revealing clothing and anything that looks sloppy or unkempt.
you’re cold or rude
A smile goes a long way when it comes to making a positive impression. Like it or not, your interviewer is judging you on your body language and tone. So imbue a little warmth into your voice and demeanour. It’ll make you seem more friendly and personable (like someone they want to work with!) And it goes without saying, but don’t be rude or snippy. Don’t cut off your interviewer when they’re talking. Respect their space. Follow their lead when it comes to the tone and direction of the interview. Always thank them for their time when the interview is over.
Lateness is one of those deal-breaking qualities that is a nonstarter for many employers. So do whatever is needed to get to your interview on time. Check your route ahead of time, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Account for traffic delays, construction or downed transit lines. Always add a little extra wiggle room, just in case. You’re better off arriving 30 minutes early and killing some time at the coffee shop on the corner than showing up a few minutes late. Interviewers often view lateness as disrespectful of their time and a sign that you don’t care. After all, if you were really pumped about this opportunity, surely you would have made every effort to be here as planned?
you seem desperate
No matter how badly you need this job, don’t say it. It doesn’t matter if your chequing account has dwindled to a single digit. It doesn’t matter if you have three kids who need new shoes. It doesn’t matter if your mom is sick and you have hospital bills to pay. Selling a sob story and begging for the job is never a good look. You have skills and admirable qualities that make you a great candidate. You don’t need to stoop to asking to be hired on the basis of pity. Always explain why you should be hired based on your merits, rather than focusing on the fact need a paycheque, no matter how true it might be.
you haven’t followed up
If you nailed every other aspect of the interview, don’t kill your momentum by forgetting to follow up. Your post-interview note doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, keeping it short and sweet is usually a good thing. A simple sentence or two that thank your interviewer for their time is perfect. An added bonus: tie in a memorable moment from your interview to remind them why you’re an awesome potential coworker. Whether you opt for an email or a personal handwritten note is up to you. Both are perfectly acceptable.
Interviews are nerve-wracking and have a way of getting off track, despite your careful planning. However, if you’re aware of your bad habits beforehand, you can make an effort to offset them. Thorough preparation is also key and will ensure you’re comfortable and avoid flailing for answers to commonly asked questions. Need more help with interview prep? Here are some other resources to check out: