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Job Interview Preparation: Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By: Fiona Su
Jun 29, 2023 • 2 min read
Image Credits: Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

No matter what stage of your career you’re in, job interviews can be nerve-wracking. However, with the right preparation, you can reduce your anxiety and increase your chances of success. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common interview mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Not Doing Your Research

The most common mistake candidates make is failing to conduct adequate research about the company and role they’re applying for. Understanding the company’s values, objectives, and industry positioning can make a world of difference in the interview process.

How to Avoid It: Prior to the interview, take some time to thoroughly research the company. Visit their website, read recent news articles, and study their products or services. Also, try to understand the role you’re applying for by studying the job description and matching your skills and experience to it.

Underestimating the Importance of First Impressions

First impressions are crucial in an interview setting. Your appearance, punctuality, and overall demeanour can greatly influence an interviewer’s perception of you.

How to Avoid It: Dress professionally for your interview, ensuring your attire aligns with the company culture. Aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Offer a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, and don’t forget to wear a smile.

Providing Vague or Irrelevant Answers

Interviewers ask specific questions to understand if you have the required skills and experience. Providing vague or irrelevant answers can make it difficult for them to assess your suitability.

How to Avoid It: Prepare and practice your responses to common interview questions. When answering, be concise, and specific, and always tie your response back to the job requirements. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your answers effectively.

Not Asking Questions

A common mistake made by interviewees is not asking questions. In a job interview, the expectation is that the conversation is a two-way dialogue. A lack of questions might be misinterpreted by the interviewer as a lack of interest in the role or the company.

Why It’s Important: When you ask insightful questions, it not only shows your engagement in the process but also demonstrates that you’ve done your homework. It gives you an opportunity to learn more about the role and the company culture. Questions can also offer you a chance to clarify any concerns you may have, providing you with all the necessary information to make an informed decision should you receive a job offer.

How to Avoid It: At the end of the interview, when the opportunity presents itself to ask questions, be prepared. Before the interview, jot down a few thoughtful questions that can highlight your understanding of the role and your keen interest in the company. Questions could be related to the company’s growth plans, the team structure, or the key challenges facing the role. This preparation demonstrates a level of seriousness and commitment to the interviewers.

Neglecting Body Language

Body language is a powerful communication tool that often speaks louder than words. Poor posture, lack of eye contact, or fidgeting can convey nervousness or disinterest.

Why It’s Important: Strong, positive body language can create a great impression on the interviewer. It conveys your confidence and shows that you are genuinely interested in the discussion. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it, that can often tip the scales in your favor during an interview.

How to Avoid It: Practice maintaining good posture, keeping eye contact, and using open body language, such as uncrossing your arms and leaning slightly forward to show engagement. Mindfulness exercises can also help manage nervous habits. For example, before the interview, try deep-breathing exercises to calm your nerves. Being aware of your body language and making a conscious effort to improve it can greatly enhance the impression you make.

Speaking Negatively About Past Employers

In the heat of the moment, you might be tempted to vent about your previous work experiences. However, speaking ill of past employers is a common pitfall that can significantly impact an interviewer’s impression of you.

Why It’s Important: Expressing negative sentiments about past employers can come across as unprofessional and raise red flags about your loyalty and attitude. Interviewers might wonder whether you will speak about their company in the same tone in the future.

How to Avoid It: Always keep discussions about past employers professional, no matter how negative your experience might have been. If asked about challenging situations, rather than focusing on the negatives, shift the narrative towards what you learned from the experience. It shows maturity and a positive attitude when you can speak about growth and learning from difficult experiences. Use these opportunities to show your problem-solving skills and resilience, rather than resorting to placing blame on others.

Forgetting to Follow-Up

Many candidates miss out on the opportunity to stand out from the crowd by not sending a follow-up note after their interview.

How to Avoid It: Within 24 hours of your interview, send a personalized thank you note to your interviewer. This shows your appreciation for their time and reaffirms your interest in the role.

Conclusion

Job interviews are a two-way street: they are as much an opportunity for you to learn about the company as they are for the company to learn about you. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can present yourself in the best light, impress your interviewers, and move one step closer to securing that job.

Remember, preparation is key. Investing time and effort into understanding the company, role, and how your skills align with it will undoubtedly set you up for success in your job interview. Good luck!

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