Education, training and experience can help you get an interview. However, getting the job requires that you find a way to shine when it comes time to meet face-to-face.
Everyone makes mistakes, but if there was ever a time to avoid them, it’s during a job interview. So, consider these common errors and their fixes. Because part of being prepared for an interview is knowing what not to do.
1. You come off as unprofessional
There is no magic formula that can be universally applied during interviews to guarantee you get the position. However, there are a ton of things you can do that will ensure that you won’t be offered the job. A lot of them fall under the general heading of appearing unprofessional.
Here’s the deal. There are a few things you absolutely must do when interviewing for a position. First, be sure that all of the interview materials you’re bringing with you (resume, cover letter, etc.,) are flawless. Even one small mistake will seem careless and it could cost you the job.
Similarly, you ought to dress professionally for an interview. Even if you think the dress code is casual for employees, you should dress up for the interview anyway. Failing to do so could send the wrong message.
Turn your phone off before your interview — double check. Don’t turn it to vibrate, or assume that no one will contact you during the meeting. Turn it all the way off.
Finally, be sure to be punctual. Being late for an interview gives the impression that you don’t care about others’ time and priorities. It’s unprofessional and it will keep you from landing the job.
2. You’re not qualified enough
When the job you’re interested in requires experience and training that you lack, it can really psych you out. But, don’t write off an opportunity so quickly when you feel like you’re not quite qualified enough. If you have some relevant experience, and if you take the right approach during the interview, you could still land the position.
The key is to think about how your background makes you uniquely qualified for the work. What do you bring to the table that other candidates don’t? Lead with honesty, but also with confidence in your abilities and a simultaneous eagerness to learn. People are often turned down because they aren’t qualified enough for a particular job. But, display a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and you could still get the job.
3. You failed to make a great first impression
A new study from CareerBuilder found that nearly half of employers (49 percent) say they know whether a candidate is a fit within the first five minutes of meeting them. Only 8 percent said it took them a half hour or longer to decide.
So, it pays to be keenly aware of the first impression you make when looking for work. Don’t be late. Be kind to the receptionist and everyone you meet during your interview. Prepare in advance so that you feel confident and ready to answer any and all questions that come your way straight out of the gate.
Finally, be aware of your body language. Otherwise, you could be sending the wrong message without even knowing it. Make eye contact, present a firm handshake and smile genuinely during your meeting. Don’t forget how important those very first few minutes really are. Be sure to make a great initial impression.
“It’s that strong handshake when you are greeted, that small talk and chit-chat when walking to the interview room and those questions you are prepared to ask that will help move you on to the next level,” Michael Erwin, senior career adviser at CareerBuilder, told CNN.
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4. You Don’t Recover From Small mistakes
Making a mistake during a job interview is not necessarily a deal breaker. There are ways to recover from a simple misstep. Other mistakes, like straight up lying on your resume for example, are more dire. (Never ever misrepresent yourself during any part of the job search process.) But, there is a lot you can do to bounce back if you make a smaller error.
First of all, take a deep breath and give yourself a minute to gather yourself. If you need to excuse yourself for just a minute, maybe to use the restroom, in order to do that then you should. When you are ready, address the mistake head on. You can explain that you want to go back and clarify something that you said earlier. Or, explain that you are absolutely mortified that your phone rang during the meeting, you’d sworn you’d turned that off.
Of course it’s best to avoid making a mistake as much as possible when interviewing. But, you’re human and it happens. Owning your mistakes, as well as learning from them and not repeating them, is key.
5. You Don’t Have a Sense of the Company Culture
Sometimes, people aren’t hired simply because they don’t seem like a good fit for the organization, according to interviewer. But, it’s important to know that there is no special magic or mystery here. That spark of ease and familiarity isn’t generated at random. In fact, it’s something you can help to create through preparation.
These days, it’s so easy to research an organization before an interview. You should go in knowing quite a lot about the company and the position. You should have a sense of the history of the organization, and the industry and an idea about where they’re heading in the future. Then, you should prepare some comments and questions that demonstrate how you can fit into that mix and further the organization’s goals.
Do your homework and really prepare for your interview. Then, have fun discussing the ideas that come up during the meeting. Show your passion for the work and for the overall mission of the company. You just might start to seem like the perfect fit for the job.
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