Cringeworthy Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Going in for an interview is a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it’s for a job you really want. You might worry about saying the wrong thing, not acting eager enough (or acting too eager), or sweating so much you leave stains in the leather chair. 

Interviews will always be like this – you’re on the spot and you know it. But there is a way to up the odds you’ll get an offer. And it starts with avoiding common interview mistakes, which include:

Showing up late

The most obvious mistake is the one made right off the bat – your interview was at 9:00 and you wander in at 9:15. You don’t have to be that late for it to go against you: even a minute or two of tardiness is enough to sting. The best way to avoid this is simple: leave with time to spare. Plan for traffic and red lights…you’re guaranteed to hit them all. 

Not dressing appropriately

You might be applying for a job in a casual environment but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress to impress. Putting on a suit or a pair of slacks shows effort and that is something that gets you noticed. It doesn’t matter if you’d never wear a suit to wait tables or tend bar. Lifeguards applying for an open position don’t show up to their interview wearing nothing but a Speed-o, and neither should you. 

Badmouthing a previous employer

The person you previously worked for could be the worst person in the world. They could have kicked kittens and yelled at everyone for no reason. They could have charged for coffee or made it clear that overtime wasn’t optional. No matter how awful they were, keep it to yourself. People who talk badly about former bosses are a huge red flag to potential new ones. 

Knowing nothing about the job

Another mistake commonly made occurs when people apply to so many places they aren’t completely sure which job they’re interviewing for. If this is your situation – you’ve spent so much time on Craigslist you now just call it “Craig” – then be cognizant of this trap. Before you go into your interview, spend an hour or two and learn about the job. More importantly, learn about the company. 

Playing too hard to get

Playing hard to get can work in certain aspects of life – in dating, for instance, a bit of a challenge can be an asset. In an interview, batting your eyes and saying that you can’t start on Monday because you have plans to wash your hair, will get you nowhere. Companies have no time for drama – if you’re not able to commit, on the fence about whether you want the job, or holding out for a paycheck you haven’t earned – you’ll blow your chance before you even have one. 

Interviewing leaves most of us feeling like we have butterflies in our stomachs. Preparation is the best way to calm the nerves (since vodka is sort of off the table). Avoid the above and you’ll increase your chances of landing the gig.  

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