Interview Tips

Watch Out for These Too-Easy Interview Mistakes

Five Ways to Fail an Interview was originally published by the American Marketing Association.

Congratulations on your invitation to interview for the perfect job!

You have diligently researched the employer. You studied interview questions and practiced for all types of interview scenarios.

As qualified and prepared as you may be, you will fail the interview if you make one of these behavior mistakes.

Demanding Pre-interview Behavior

To stay in the game, go with the flow. Try your best to be available for the interview date offered. Don’t push too much about your needs, such as parking or limited time for the meeting. When you arrive, don’t be tempted to ask for your coffee prepared in a special way. Instead, simply accept a glass of water. Hiring managers know that if you are a demanding person during the selection process, you will be a problem employee if hired.

Want even more help on your interview preparation? The counselors with Mediabistro’s Career Services can help you refine your interview skills in a one-on-one session.

Challenging or Disputing the Interviewer

An interview is not your chance to stump the interviewer. If you notice an inaccuracy in what the interviewer says, don’t jump to correct him. Only offer your correction or opinion if asked. The hiring manager is seeking a knowledgeable employee, not a know-it-all who might be difficult and present a challenge to what is otherwise a collegial environment.

Interrupting Others

Allow the interviewer to complete his question or statement. Don’t step on his words or finish his statement. If you do it mistakenly, apologize and don’t repeat the mistake. To be safe always wait a couple of seconds before you respond to a question.

Crossing the Line With Humor

It takes time to build rapport before humor is well-received. An initial interview is not the time to test your latest one-liners. It is never appropriate to joke about politics, race or religion—even if the hiring manager initiates the joke. In fact, stay away from those topics entirely. Cross the line, and you can bet that your interview is a fail.

Parking Lot Faux Pas

The interview is not over when you leave the conference room. It is over when you are out of the parking area and completely off campus. Hiring managers and staff members will notice your behavior.

If you are seen in an unprofessional manner outside the building, it will work against you. Things such as scarfing down snacks, smoking, talking loudly on your phone or removing your tie will make a bad impression. Wait until you are completely off campus for these things. The same applies to behavior in your car or the lobby before the interview.

Even the brightest and most qualified candidates can fail an interview if their conduct is inappropriate. Interviews are as much about proving you will fit in with others as it is about proving you are qualified. Let your expertise and aptitude shine through by taking care to exhibit your best behavior.

Debra Wheatman is a certified resume writer and certified career coach.

The American Marketing Association is the pre-eminent force in marketing for best and next practices, thought leadership and valued relationships, across the entire discipline of marketing. Its online publications include posts on industry trends, career advice and more.

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