We all know that showing up late to an interview or dressing inappropriately can ruin your chances for a job. But what about other behaviors that could unexpectedly sabotage your job interview? Don’t let it happen to you! Keep in mind these ten common subconscious mistakes that you probably don’t even know you’re making.
1. Not Shaking the Interviewer’s Hand
Problem: First impressions are vital in an interview. When meeting your interviewer for the first time, there are three faux pas that you need to avoid: not standing when she enters the room, not shaking her hand, and not looking them in the eye. Each action is disrespectful, and if you are not respectful to your interviewer, she’ll assume you won’t be respectful to your future clients.
How to Fix It: Make it a practice when you are meeting anyone for the first time. Stand, shake the person’s hand, and look them in the eye. If it’s habit for you, then you won’t even have to think about it when the time comes.
2. Bad Posture
Problem: Bad posture during an interview can give the impression that you are lazy or disrespectful. Reclining might tell the interviewer that you are bored or cocky. Slouching forward gives the impression of nervousness. If you are constantly shifting from one position to another it shows that you’re uncomfortable, which in turn can make the interviewer uncomfortable.
How to Fix It: Relax against the back of your chair. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor and engage your core. Avoid sitting up too straight, as that can also make you look uncomfortable. It may sound crazy, but practice sitting at home and see how long you can hold a comfortable position without too much shifting around.
3. Too Many Long Pauses
Problem: Thinking through your answers is always a good idea, but if it takes you longer than ten seconds to start talking, you’ve passed the point of being comfortable. Taking too long to consider a question could imply that you’re mentally slow or aren’t able to handle stressful situations. You need to show that you can roll with the punches.
How to Fix It: Even if you don’t have a solid answer formulated in your head, begin with what you do know and expand on it. Once you start, talking can lead to other ideas. Just be careful not to resort to thinking out loud. Slow your speech so that you have a few seconds in between thoughts to consider ideas before you articulate them.
4. Cutting off the Interviewer
Problem: Showing eagerness and excitement is one thing, but if you’re cutting off the interviewer before he has the chance to get the question out, you can come across as rude, as well as incapable of listening. In addition, you may end up answering what you thought the question was, instead of the real question.
How to Fix It: Make sure you’re really, actively listening to each question. Keep your speech patterns slow. Always wait for your interviewer to finish her question, and then think for five seconds before you answer. This will guarantee that you’ve heard the question and it gives you time to structure a well thought out answer.
5. Yawning or Falling Asleep
Problem: It doesn’t matter if you were up until 3 a.m. researching the company, if you yawn during an interview, it shows that you aren’t taking it seriously. A yawn can say a lot: that you’re a party animal who doesn’t get enough sleep, that you don’t know proper time management, or that you’re simply bored with the entire interview process.
How to Fix It: First and most importantly, make sure you get a full night of sleep before the interview. Have some caffeine before the interview, but not too much. Do some yoga. Stretch in the bathroom. Take a quick walk around the block. Anything you can do to get the blood flowing will not only wake you up, but also help with your response time to questions.
6. Talking Around Questions
Problem: You may be the king or queen of waxing poetic, but it doesn’t matter how many big words you use. If there’s no substance to your answer, chances are your interviewer will see right through the BS. Rambling can make the interviewer uncomfortable or bored, as well as show an inability on your part to interact with clients.
How to Fix It: Make sure you always have a point. After each question, take five seconds to focus on what point you want to make. Even if you’re unsure how to get to that point, ending with a definitive answer is better than confusing the interviewer or looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
7. Mumbling or Not Speaking Clearly
Problem: An interview is no place to be shy. Mumbling or tripping over your words will make you look apprehensive, nervous, or bored. It also shows the interviewer that you’re unsure of yourself and have no presence. And most importantly, if an interviewer can’t understand you, then you’re not making your point.
How to Fix It: Make sure you are using slow, steady speech patterns. Your breathing should also be slow and steady. Make the effort to enunciate every word, just make sure you’re not over-enunciating. Pretend the interviewer is intently listening to every word that comes out of your mouth, so make each one count.
8. Cell Phone Ringing
Problem: Beyond the annoyance of being interrupted during the interview, a ringing cell phone can say many things. You aren’t taking the interview seriously. You think there are more important things than this job. You have no problem inconveniencing other people. And putting the phone on vibrate is no better, since most cell phone vibrations are audible. Picture the interviewer totally distracted, trying to figure out where the buzzing is coming from.
How to Fix It: Turn your phone completely off during your interview. No exceptions, unless you’re wife is about to go into labor. And if that’s the case, or you have another excusable planned emergency, let the interviewer know that before she begins. But make sure you have a really good reason.
9. Not Looking the Interviewer in the Eye
Problem: Looking your interviewer directly in the eye shows a level of respect. It conveys the message that you are both on the same page and at the same level. If you’re unable to look your interviewer in the eye, it says that you’re uncomfortable with her, or worse, gives the impression that you’re lying or making up stories.
How to Fix It: Don’t keep your eyes locked with hers for the entire interview, that’s just creepy. But a good rule of thumb is to look her in the eye when she is talking, to show that you’re actively listening. Also, make sure to reconnect when you’re making a point, for extra emphasis.
10. Nervous Energy or Acting Hyper
Problem: Showing that you’re excited and energetic about your new job is good, but nervous energy paints a whole different picture. Constantly bouncing your leg, tapping your finger, or shifting around every ten seconds is distracting and shows that you are unable to sit still, which is unprofessional. If you can’t sit through a thirty-minute interview, how are you going to survive a two-hour meeting, or, more importantly, an eight-hour day?
How to Fix It: Take deep, steady breaths beforehand. Pay attention to your breathing during the interview, make sure it hasn’t quickened, and keep it at a slow, steady pace. Pretend your feet are cemented to the floor to keep your legs from bouncing. And keep the hand gestures to a minimum!
By Jeff Hindenach for Excelle