Interviewing for a job is stressful for a reason. You want to be your best, but there are so many job interview mistakes that can happen. Some are beyond your control, and some can unwittingly happen.
Many recruiters, companies, or hiring managers will never tell a job candidate about a job interview mistake, especially if they fear the reaction from a job candidate. The job interview pointers offered below will help you handle these mistakes with class.
1. Failing to show up
Thankfully, this is not a common job interview mistake. Things happen in life. People get sick. You get sick. Natural disasters, car accidents, heavy traffic, and more can keep you from a job interview, plus cut off your ability to communicate.
We live in a connected world, but it is possible to become disconnected. You cannot control what happened that day, but you should eventually take the time to explain yourself.
Job interview pointer: If you had an interview for a job, show the company the courtesy of an apology and explanation (yes, even if a month later). They may understand more than you know. It would be a job interview mistake to completely disappear.
2. Showing up too late
Job interviews get off on the wrong foot when you show up late. It is a job interview mistake to show up and act like the company should just accept that you arrive when you wanted. Sometimes, the company may even turn you away for missing your time slot, even with an explanation, but you should still show up. Why?
It is about being professional and having the backbone to communicate with some class. You could have gotten stuck on a subway, elevator, or even mugged on the way to an interview. Things happen, so show up and explain (if you can). If they turn you away, thank them for their time. Be classy.
Job interview pointer: If you had an interview for a job, just as in #1, there should be an apology and explanation. You cannot control how the company reacts to you. You can control how classy you stay in the process.
3. Showing up too early
This is an interesting job interview mistake. Let’s say you fear scenarios #1 and #2, above. If you believe in the saying, “Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” remember not to take this to an extreme. The key is for you to appear balanced.
Why? If you ever make the mistake of showing up too early, you will notice the staff, hiring manager, even the receptionist, may feel rushed or awkward about you sitting there for 30 minutes waiting to be interviewed.
Job interview pointer: Yes, you wanted to avoid being late. But that does not mean the office is the place to wait for the interview. If you have an interview for a job, and you show up an hour early, wait somewhere else outside. Then, 10 minutes before, go inside and introduce yourself. You neither want to appear anxious nor forgetful of your time slot. You want to appear “right on time”.
4. Bad breath
This is a job interview mistake because most interviews take place in closed offices where the oxygen is scarce. The door is closed and all you smell is the perfume or cologne of the people across from you.
As you all start talking, the last thing you want is for people to start smelling your breath. The person across from you may spend the rest of the time covering his/her mouth, distracted by your breath.
Job interview pointer: Skip the cup of coffee or foods with herbs and spices before a job interview. Use breath mints. It will make a difference during your job interview in close quarters with a recruiter, hiring manager, or staff.
5. Body odor
As harsh as it is to say, this is a job interview mistake. Remember that you are meeting complete strangers and you need to appear polished. Try not to use anything over-the-top, such as a perfume or cologne that could make people cringe, sneeze, or nauseous.
Job interview pointer: Some scents are rough on the sense of others, so stick to a simple shower, shampoo, and deodorant. Body odor, believe it or not, is a reason we find ourselves attracted to people. And you don’t want yours to make people regret calling you in for a job interview.
6. Body energy and posture
Are you bored or just trying to play your job interview calm and cool? Regardless, you had better keep the energy up for a job interview. Otherwise, your job interview mistake is appearing to simply not care.
Job interview pointer: Nothing says, “This job bores me” more than low energy and a slumped over posture. When we are excited about a job interview, our energy is high and we talk in an engaged manner making eye contact always.
7. Not having a resume on hand
If you have a job interview at a paperless company, ironically, it is still a job interview mistake not to bring a paper resume with you. Yes, you may have your resume on a device and care about the environment, but the person you are interviewing with may want something to reference that is easy to read.
Job interview pointer: Trying to figure out your iPad, tablet, iPhone, Smartphone etc. was not on the agenda for your job interview, today. It also makes you appear unprepared to not have a resume with you.
8. Talking about strangely personal topics
It’s a great thing to believe in transparency. It’s a job interview mistake to bring up strangely personal topics. Yes, transparency has limits when it comes to complete strangers.
When something comes up during an interview that will lead to an uncomfortable answer, it is time to avoid getting too negative. Being too honest is called “TMI” or “too much information”.
Job interview pointer: Being conservative in an interview is called, “Only sticking to relevant topics”. Personal feelings and emotions during job interviews should never be revealed.
9. Being argumentative or confrontational
Imagine you invite a person to come interview at your company for a job. As you start to explain how the company works and what the job candidate will do, the job candidate fires back with criticisms of your company.
Why would they do this? Perhaps, they want to appear knowledgeable or prepared for the interview. Perhaps, he or she wants to show you they can talk about the industry. Still, being argumentative or confrontational is a job interview mistake.
Job interview pointer: Above all, don’t start talking about politics or other hot-button topics. If you have a problem with the company, you should not have applied.
10. Having nothing to say at the end
You are interviewing at a company to see if you one day will work there. They are going to ask "Do you have any questions?" You better have some questions! No one will believe you if you say your only question is, “When do I start?”.
Job interview pointer: The best way to show you are interested in something or someone is to ask questions that reflect your interest. Find out for yourself if the company is for you.
Whether deal breakers happen to you in an interview or not, the way you respond to diversity does more for your career than anything else.
So, see every mistake you make as a learning moment, and move onto the next interview!