Job interviews can be nerve-wracking and stressful, especially if you know that there are many people vying for the same role. And while you can't control every aspect of your interview, there are certain things you can definitely do or avoid doing in order to give yourself an edge as a serious contender for the role. That's why we bring you some common job interview mistakes people make - some of them might seem obvious, some may be things you've never thought about. But they are all very important to avoid if you want a real shot at the role you're interviewing for.
1. Not being punctual
This should be a no-brainer, but you won’t believe how many people get this one wrong. You must always, always reach your interview at least 15 minutes before the appointment time, if not 30. Keep traffic and other considerations in mind and make sure you leave well in time to make it in early. If there is an actual emergency and you are running late, please make sure to call the office at least 30 minutes in advance and speak with the person who has sent you the interview details, and request a postponement or rescheduling. Showing up late for an interview without advance notice or exigent circumstances is considered a deal-breaker for pretty much every interviewer.
2. Not carrying your CV
Or any other documents that you may have been asked to bring! Even if you have emailed your CV previously and have not specifically been asked to carry copies - you must. In case your interview is being conducted by a panel, you should be able to hand out copies for reference for every member if required.
3. Not researching the company
Yes, we all get caught up in applying to a series of companies we don’t know all that much about. But the thing is, once you get the interview call, it’s essential that you do your due diligence and find out as much as you can. Otherwise you may come across as someone who is not seriously interested in the job because you don’t really know what the company does, and automatically risk being rejected.
4. Not having carefully read through the job description
Do you know what exactly your role is supposed to be? In case the JD seemed unclear to you, have you prepared specific questions to clarify the doubts you have? It is important to be ready to address both these issues because your interviewer is looking to hire for a particular role - even if it feels like just another job interview for you, if you want a shot at actually getting the job, you have to take it as seriously as possible.
5. Not being polite and respectful throughout the interview process
And by this we mean from the moment you enter the office to the time that you exit the building. Behaving rudely with a guard at the door because you’re running late and he’s taking too much time to let you in, or even speaking loudly on the phone at the reception - given that you’re a new person in the office who is being observed by people who already work at the organization, all these things add up to creating a negative first impression.
6. Not dressing professionally
Whether it's a startup or a media company or a corporate, there are certain expectations of neatness and formality that every employer has of their employees, especially potential ones. Since at the interview stage you don't know what the dress code for the company is, it's best to err on the side of caution and keep your appearance as tidy as possible. Ripped jeans, unkempt hair, scuffed shoes, an overflowing tote - all of these are big no-nos. It creates an impression that you haven't taken the interview seriously enough to at least make an effort.
7. Initiating a salary/ leave policy discussion with a senior interviewer
Yes, we know, these are issues you obviously want to discuss and clarify at your interview. But don't bring it up yourself with the senior-most person at your interview panel or round. Wait for them to broach the topic and then ask your questions. And if it doesn't come up, wait till the end of the interview and then bring it up separately with the HR rep who is part of the interview process, or the person who coordinated directly with you about the interview date or time, etc. If you raise this in the middle of a role and responsibilities discussion, you risk coming across as someone more interested in rewards and remuneration than the job itself.
8. Not appearing focused
This can take many forms. Not making eye contact with your interviewers, looking up or down instead of directly at the person across from you, sharing information about your personal life that has no bearing on your ability to perform the job in discussion, asking them to repeat questions multiple times… While people do get nervous or feel shy at an interview, always be conscious about not doing these things. It creates an impression that you're easily distracted and are not paying sufficient attention, and gets you negative points without you even realizing it.
9. Being over-familiar
This is very important. Don't be casual in your conversation and make personal comments, even if you think it's a compliment. And even if you realize that you and your interviewer have Facebook friends in common and stuff, this is not the correct forum to discuss such matters. Remember that you're there to get yourself a job, not to make new friends. You like the person who's interviewing you? Great. Just wait till you've got the job before you try to build a social connection!
Never do this. Hear them out, and then respond. Even if you feel something being said is incorrect, wait till the end of the sentence and when you're asked for your comments. Many interviewers deliberately make remarks that may sound argumentative simply because they are trying to gauge your ability to stay calm and professional in a difficult or conflict situation - and behaving rudely or responding angrily just proves to them that you can't handle such situations well.
11. Not being honest about previous work experience
Or about your educational qualifications! Don't put anything down on your CV that's not actually true, or claim to have expertise in areas where you don't. Many interviews have spot tests as part of the process, where interviewers will ask you to instantly execute a 5-10 minute project, and not being able to complete it because you've no idea how to actually do it shows you up in a really bad light. Also remember that people do run background and reference checks, so if what you've said is not true or exaggerated, it will come out at some point or the order.
12. Not showing interest beyond the questions you are asked
If the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for us?”, be prepared to ask at least a couple of questions. If you can't think of anything in particular, at least ask about the work culture at the company, and potential growth paths that they may have in mind for you. If you say nothing at all, it makes it seem that you're not really interested in the organization or its plans beyond getting yourself a job offer.
Last, but not the least. If you're at the interview, it is expected that it's because you have some basic respect for the brand and the work that they do. Saying things like “I don't really like the way you do ABC” or “Why don't you guys have an XYZ policy?” just sounds like you're criticizing them. And no one wants to hire a person who gives off such a negative impression.