Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

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The interview process can be nerve-wracking for even the most qualified and prepared candidates. With hundreds of applicants on average applying to most positions, being selected as a leading candidate for an interview is an accomplishment in itself. However, once you set step into the office to meet the decision makers, nerves can often take over and lead to common interview mistakes that have the potential to override your experience and skill set. While your resume can be perfectly polished, with as many as 80% of hiring managers and talent specialists placing greater value on soft skills over hard skills, your ability to network and communicate effectively are your greatest assets in making it past the first interview.

Recent studies suggest that 40% of employers have difficulty filling open positions due to a lack of these skills in otherwise qualified candidates. Here’s what you can do to ensure you don’t make these common interview mistakes.

1. Lack of Research on the Company

Asking about your insight on the company is a common leading question in interviews to determine your level of genuine interest in the company and preparation for the meeting. Simply regurgitating information you read on the ‘About’ page is not enough to prove dedication to learning about the company culture and what your position will entail. Showing an in-depth understanding of the position at hand, and researching the team via LinkedIn and other social media, as well as latest company press and initiatives, will allow you to provide more comprehensive and thoughtful answers to this question.

2. Not Arriving on Time

Showing up on time to an interview goes without saying, but arriving at least 15 minutes early is ideal. How you spend that time waiting to meet your interviewer is equally important: make sure to leave a positive impression with the receptionist and avoid staring at your phone or sipping a beverage as you wait. Rather, use this time to review copies of your resume or portfolio that you brought with you to reinforce important points you want to share so they’re fresh in your mind.

3. Speaking Negatively About Your Previous Employer

Every workplace has its pros and cons. You’re clearly seeking a new job for a reason, and while that reason could very likely be a negative work environment or an intolerable boss, refrain from expressing these details to your interviewer. Instead, mention how the company provided you with the experience you were seeking when you started, but also share how this new opportunity can better advance your career in a mutually beneficial way.

4. Not Dressing Appropriately

Common wisdom says to dress for the job you want, but it’s important to take into consideration the specific company culture of the role you’re applying to. Research the company and current employees via the ‘Team’ page and LinkedIn accounts to decipher what the typical dress code is. With that in mind, while many companies and start-ups are becoming more lax in terms of dress code, always err on the side of business professional during the interview process.

5. Exaggerating Your Experience and Skill Set

53% of hiring managers suspect that candidates have lied or exaggerated on their resumes, and for good reason: studies show that as many as 85% of job seekers actually do. Recruiters regularly catch fibs on applications involving everything from the length of time at a specific company, skill set, graduating college, and position titles. If they don’t catch lies by performing a common detailed background check, your body language and ability to communicate confidently about your skill set and behavioral questions during an interview will give away your true level of experience. Transparency, authenticity and making a genuine connection is the key to success.

These are some great tips, but the best way to perfect your interview skills is to practice, practice, practice! Our career coaches, all of whom have recruiting and coaching experience for top companies like Google, Bain, Amazon, and more, work with students and recent grads through interactive prep sessions and 1:1 coaching. Check out our plans to learn more.


Want loads more tips on how to ace your interviews, along with other great resources to help you find the perfect career? Download our PathMatch app today! 

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