Seven Ways to Sabotage Your Next Job Interview

Last week, we covered steps to make your job interview a success. But what about what not to do? Avoid these missteps to present yourself in the best possible light to your potential employer.

  • Don’t use your résumé as a crutch. Even if it’s just because you’re nervous, you’ll look unprepared if you’re constantly staring at the paper. Instead, study your résumé so you can remember all the specifics that you referenced, and practice talking about them before the interview.
  • Don’t act arrogantly. You may be perfect for the job, great at what you do and a perfect fit for the company, but you don’t want to seem arrogant. Communicate confidence and competence instead—talk about past success in school or work, and be willing to admit that you have skills to improve. Wanting to get better makes a much better impression than bragging.
  • Don’t be negative. You may have had a hard time with a past employer or negative experiences along the road, but employers don’t want to hear about complaints. Instead, talk about negative experiences as positive opportunities that enabled you to learn and grow.
  • Don’t talk too much about things outside of work. Even if you’re asked about your hobbies, don’t spend more than a minute or so talking about them. Steer the conversation  toward interests  that are relevant to the job.
  • Don’t speak too generally. There are lots of clichés that find their way into how people describe themselves as workers—“problem solver,” “team player,” etc.—that, even if they’re true, sound like you don’t have anything concrete about yourself to say. Instead of using these kinds of phrases, use examples that highlight those attributes.
  • Don’t lie. There might be some things that you don’t want to talk about, or you fear will hurt your chances of getting the job; lying about your record or life situation, however, can backfire to the point of costing you the job after you’ve already started. Instead, tell the truth and talk about what you’re doing to make a bad situation better.
  • Don’t act out. This is a professional meeting. You may hit it off with the interviewer right away, but keep the jokes to a minimum and keep your body relaxed and still. Even tapping your foot or fingers can make you seem disinterested. If you feel too nervous, try taking a few deep breaths and thinking about something positive.

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