No matter how prepared you are, or how many questions you’ve practised, or your great list of questions to ask, there are some major faux pas that could completely damage your impression with the recruiter. In order to put the best foot forward, avoid doing the following:
Showing up really really early
Showing up 10 minutes before your interview is perfect, even 15 minutes is fine, but if you are sitting an waiting for 20-30 minutes this is a huge red flag for employers. Being too early shows you can’t manage your time well enough to arrive when you are supposed to. Plus now you are forcing the company to deal with you for half an hour of their time – does the receptionist have to make you feel comfortable, have you made the interviewers feel pressured or rushed? Showing up on time (5-10 minutes ahead) is the most professional thing you can do.
Pro tip: Giving yourself plenty of extra time is smart, so if you arrive super early, find a coffee shop, bench or parking spot around the corner and just wait until a more appropriate time to show up. Bonus: now you are relaxed and not rushing into the interview at the last minute.
Being too prepared
You’ve spent hours researching the company, rehearsing answers and practising your body language in a mirror. You are going to knock this interview out of the park! …Sorry, but there is a big danger here: being a robot. Companies are looking to hire people, and with people come unique personalities, attitudes and emotions. No matter how perfect your answers are, you need to show you are a good employee, an interested and interesting person. Often cultural fit and attitude can determine if someone is hired, not if they have technically perfect answers.
Rehearsing is great, but remember to loosen up and relax a bit during the interview. No one is perfect, and the interviewer knows this – they want to get a sense of you as a person and an employee, and acting robotic is not going to make the personal connection they want.
Not saying thank you
This seems like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget. At the end of the interview, give a sincere “thank you” for their time and the opportunity. Make eye contact and shake the interviewer’s hand to show your appreciation. This is basic politeness, so it will be noticed if you walk out without saying anything.
Not saying you want the job
This one goes hand-in-hand with saying thanks. Don’t assume simply showing up for an interview and answering questions correctly means you really want the job. At the end of the interview, before or after your ‘Thank you’ say explicitly that you are really excited about the position and it’s an opportunity you really want.
All things equal, the employer will choose the candidate that genuinely seems enthusiastic about the job and the company than the one that seems disinterested.
Not watching your mouth
We get it, nerves make you blurt out the craziest things – but sometimes this can really backfire. In any professional setting, you must be extra careful about what you say, and what’s appropriate.
Do not offer any personal information or opinion that isn’t relevant to the job. The interviewer does not need to know about your personal issues, or that you really like the Mexican restaurant next door. Think about what is important to the job, and stick to those topics. Interviews aren’t about telling your life story, so watch out you don’t start talking about irrelevant topics. Stay professional.