Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days (sorry not sorry for the throwback Hannah Montana lyric from my childhood) but don’t let your interview be one of those days. Mistakes are inevitable, you’re going to slip up, hear a question incorrectly or answer it wrong, and maybe even call your interviewer by the wrong name on accident, but there are some interviewing mistakes that are not just easily avoidable, but can sometimes be unforgivable to an interviewer. Don’t miss out on your dream job because you committed one of these seven deadly interview sins.
Arriving at an interview too early doesn’t make you seem very punctual and eager; it can make you seem inconsiderate of other’s time and schedule. While you may just sit in the waiting room for 20 minutes until the start time, being more than 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the clock can throw others off and make them feel like they must rush to wrap up whatever they were working on, so that you can get out of the waiting room and into the interview room.
When you finally get into the interview room, making eye contact is key to building a connection and showing interest, if you constantly are avoiding eye contact, you can seem illusive and non-trustworthy. While direct eye contact can be a bit awkward, an important part of assertively communicating is to look at the person, or persons, you are speaking with to build more of a connection. If eye contact is too much to bear, as you are speaking you can look at their forehead, between their eyebrows, or shift your eyes from their left to right eye (the shift is so subtle, no one will notice it but you) to ensure they know you are listening and interested in what they are saying.
Avoid getting too eager to answer a question and cutting off your interviewer by taking a deep breath as they are talking to calm your nerves and counting to 3 after you believe they finished their question to ensure that they truly did finish their question. While an accidental interruption or cutting someone short is no big deal (we know it happens to everyone), doing this multiple times during your interview can make you come across as rude and make the interviewer(s) question your listening skills.
When answering questions about work history and accomplishments, many women battle with being so humble that it can sound to the interviewer like they haven’t accomplished much in their careers, or owe the value they shared on their resume to others. Don’t be afraid to own the success you’ve had and created for yourself- share what you’ve done in your career to get you where you are, and be sure to call out where teamwork was essential to not only give credit to your team, but to also remind your interviewer that you’re a team player and work well with others.
While a lot of your interview should be spent ‘selling yourself’ to your potential new employer, your future boss also wants to know what you want out of the job and what your non-negotiables are. Not spending enough time talking to your interviewer about what they can do for you and what you need out of the job is a sure fire way to accidentally fall in love with a job that can’t bring you what will truly make you happy and motivated at work, which means you’ll probably be back in the same position again in a year or so when you can’t take it anymore.
Trash talking your current employer as a way to answer the question of “so tell us a bit about why you are wanting to leave your current job” not only is insanely tacky, but it can make you the Negative Nelly in the room and cause employers to cross you off their list immediately. While your current job may be a toxic hellfire, there is a positive way to spin it all into the perfect answer. Whatever your current employer is lacking is what you’re looking for, so leave your job out of it, and instead, just tell the interviewer something along the lines of “I thrive so well in collaborative and creative environments where crazy ideas are encourages, mistakes are allowed, and thinking outside the box is essential- and after learning more about your company, I feel so strongly that this is the kind of environment you foster here.”
Speaking of learning about the company you’re interviewing for, you should always come to the interview prepared with some research you’ve done. A basic dive into the company website to learn about their company values, what they do, and their niche market will create great talking points for you to bring up when it is your turn to ask the questions. In the age of the internet and social media, not researching the company for basic information to use in the interview is not just a mistake, it is almost sinful and shows a lack of preparation and investment.
Every person who has lead an interview has been on the same side of the table as you, and chances are, they’ve screwed up some part of an interview before, too. Employers don’t care about perfectionism (well, the good ones don’t) they care about character, competency, and authenticity- if you make a mistake, or commit one of these sins, call yourself out tactfully for it (“Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off, I just got so excited to tell you about this project I did this last year that it slipped out before my brain could tell my mouth to be quiet!”) and move on with the rest of the interview. We all make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you have to make your interview one.