You've sent out countless resumes and have finally been called in for an interview. This is the point where you can make it or break it. If you perform well, you may finally get the job you've been looking for.
Then again, if you commit one of these 10 ways to ruin an interview, you'll be walking away with nothing to show for it. These do's and don'ts should prepare you for the interview so you don't make any mistakes.
- You didn't research the company.
During a job interview, you're asked if you have any questions. This is the perfect opportunity to find out about the open position or the company's hiring practices. However, you'll lose major points if you ask something that you should already know from just a little bit of research.
Before your interview, read the description of the company on their website, their mission statement and the full job advertisement for the position. Even better, read recent news articles on the company as well.
- You came in late.
Punctuality is important to any employer. If you come late to your interview, the prospective boss will assume that you'd be late to work every day.
Before your interview, map out the route to the employer ahead of time and print out a map so you don't get lost. Account for traffic by leaving earlier than you normally would, and make sure you have enough gas in your car to take you there.
- You didn't dress for the part.
While you'd think dressing appropriately for an interview would be common sense, there are still people out there that come in wrinkled clothes, jeans with holes or wet hair.
Before the interview, dress in clean, pressed clothes that are typical for the position for which you're applying. Avoid wearing perfume or cologne.
- You kept the interview negative.
Employers want to work with positive people who are team-players. Even if you're asked about why you left your last job, refrain from injecting any negative commentary into your answer. That will only make you look bad.
During the interview, avoid complaining about your former boss, coworkers or work environment.
- You gave canned responses.
There's nothing wrong with preparing for an interview. However, you shouldn't be so prepared that you're giving planned answers to common questions. The prospective employer wants to see who you really are, not what you read in an article was the best response to "What are your weaknesses?"
During the interview, use personal, work-related anecdotes to tailor your responses to what makes you unique.
- You didn't ask any questions.
When you interact with a prospective employer, you're showing your interest in the position. If you sit there answering questions without asking a few of your own, the employer may assume that you're on auto-pilot.
During the interview, ask questions about the position. "Why did the last employee leave this position?" "What is a typical day like while working in this position?" “What type of person would succeed in this position?” Ask these and other questions to stay informed.
- You let your nerves get the best of you.
A job interview is an important thing, but don't let the pressure mess with your nerves. Just remember, it's okay not to know an answer to an interviewer's questions.
During the interview, relax and take a deep breath. If you don't know an answer to a question, don't panic. Admit that you're not sure, but give your best guess anyway. After all, no one's perfect. Most importantly don’t lie or just make up an answer. It may come back to bite you in then end if they research it.
- You didn't stay on topic.
Naturally extroverted people tend to go on and on. While that's acceptable for the interviewer, it's not okay for you. Don't start talking about how adorable your cat is or how well your fantasy football team is doing. The prospective employer doesn't have the time to chat.
During the interview, keep personal, unrelated information to a minimum. Only talk about personal information in answer to a question--and keep it brief!
- You didn't pay attention.
So many things could be distracting you. You could be worrying about how to answer questions that have yet to be asked, or wondering how tomorrow's interview for a different job will go. However, that distraction could make the employer think that you don't care about the job.
During the interview, keep your mind on what the interviewer is saying. Smile and keep eye contact to avoid getting distracted.
- You forgot to say "Thank You."
Your interviewer took time out of her busy schedule to interview you for the position. If you don't send a thank you, you aren't showing your appreciation. Plus, if you send a thank you, you'll be reminding the interviewer of who you are, thus improving your chances of getting the job.
After the interview, send a thank you note. This can be through email or snail mail. Just make sure to get it to them as soon as possible. And if you interview with more than one person, make sure to send each individual interviewer their own unique thank you note as well.