Some interview mistakes are easy to avoid. If you truly want the job and you respect your interviewer, you’ll know better than to show up ten minutes late without an explanation. You’ll also dress professionally, and you’ll be polite and mind your manners. Even novice job seekers have an instinctive feel for the egregious behaviors that can derail an interview before it begins. But there are some common interview mistakes that even senior-level professionals make, and they make them surprisingly often. Watch out for these blunders.

Theatrical enthusiasm

You want to show you’re interested, engaged and qualified. But everything in life requires balance. Most interviewers—and most people in general—are turned off by a conversational companion who behaves in an insincere, overeager, servile or silly way. Just be yourself. Don’t imply you’d leap over the very moon if the interviewer asked you to. Both of you know that isn’t true. Just calmly discuss the job and work together to determine if it’s the right fit for you.

Poor listening skills

Conversations are a two-way street, and both parties should spend some of the time talking and some of the time listening carefully and thinking about what they hear. Too often, interviewees are focused on what they’re going to say next and the conversation becomes more of a one-sided presentation. Remember: You’re here to demonstrate your interpersonal skills, not just your job skills. Read cues, listen to nuance and recognize when it’s time to quiet down, speak up, ask, answer or change the subject.

Forgetting one important detail

Somewhere in your job history, you completed a project that aligns perfectly with the exact needs of this role and demonstrates the exact qualifications the interviewer would like to see. But if you’re like most of us, you may reach the end of the interview and walk out the door without ever mentioning that detail. Sometimes we all let things slip when we get nervous. Find a way to mention the project or draw the interviewer’s attention to it when you send your follow-up note.

Personal comments

Before you succumb to the friendly vibe in the room or start speaking to your interviewer like a confidant, pause. Don’t ask about her personal life, comment on her appearance or clothing or allow the conversation to continue if it moves in this direction. The reverse is also true; don’t share anything about your family, your health, your religious beliefs or any other personal detail unless you’ve subjected the comment to a thorough internal scan. On any of these subjects, less is more, and zero is best.

For more on how to ace your interview land the job you’re looking for, contact the career management experts at Extension.


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