Interviewing for a new job can be stressful enough, without the added weight of worrying about any missteps you may or may not take. To help make sure your skills and assets are able to shine though, we’ve compiled a list of eight common job interview mistakes — as well as how you can avoid them.
Arriving too early or too late
Arriving late to your interview leaves a bad first impression, but so also does arriving far too early when you’re not expected. Plan to arrive about 10–15 minutes before the interview to show that you’re punctual — and should you run into traffic or other unforeseeable events that can cause a delay, be certain to explain the situation. If you’re worried about setbacks, see if there’s a coffee shop or park nearby where you can arrive extra early (and even get in some more interview prep).
Dressing inappropriately for the role
Workplace attire may not be one-size-fits-all. In some companies and industries, more formal clothing may be expected, while others can be a bit more relaxed. Even so, you’ll still want to ensure that what you’re wearing is clean, neat, and work appropriate. Not confident about what someone in your position will be expected to wear? Err on the side of caution and dress more formally.
Not doing research on the company
Few things are as big a red flag as an interviewee being unaware of basic info on the company they’re hoping to get hired at. Before the interview, visit the company website, read any articles there may be about them online, and check out their social media accounts. This can not only provide you with insights into their work, culture, and mission, but will also help inform your answers and demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re actually interested in this company in particular.
Not preparing for potential questions
Of course, there’s no way to know for sure what your interviewer will ask. Nevertheless, there are a number of typical questions that you can be ready for. Being caught off-guard by everything you’re asked will indicate a lack of thought and preparation, so before your interviews you’ll want to go through common job interview questions and craft answers to have at the ready.
Speaking too little — or too much
You’ll be given a certain time slot, so you’ll want to make the most of it. Having short answers with little detail won’t do much to convey to the interviewer why they should hire you. Conversely, going on and on in your answers will waste valuable time and maybe even convolute your points. When preparing your answers prior to the interview, say them out loud and continuously hone them to the right length, and try to be as succinct as possible while still providing key details about you and your experience.
Speaking badly of other employers
No matter what your current or previous workplaces have been like, you should avoid speaking negatively about them. Otherwise, you risk coming across as difficult to work with and might make your interviewer wonder what you might eventually say about them. If you had unfavorable work experiences in the past, be diplomatic, and when asked why you want to switch jobs, switch the focus towards the positives of your prospective job rather than negatives of others — such as “I feel like I would have more growth opportunities at this company,” or “I want to gain experience at a larger company.”
Not asking your own questions
In practically every interview, you’ll be given the chance to ask questions yourself, and you definitely want to take advantage of it. Asking insightful questions shows the interviewer that you’ve put real thought into working there and will allow you to get more information about the company and role. Have a few on-hand and ready to ask about the company as a whole, the day-to-day of the role, or anything else you may be curious about.
Forgetting that this is an interview for them as well
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to sell yourself as an employee, but it’s important to remember that this is an opportunity to figure out if you want to work for them, not just to get them to want to hire you. Pay attention to the office culture and how other employees appear. Note how your interviewer behaves and comments they make. You’ll potentially be spending a large portion of your time there, so at the end of the day, you’ll want to be sure it’s a good fit.