Editor’s Note: This is an article by Alexis Donaldson. She’s passionate about helping jobseekers actualise their dreams of securing great jobs. More of her at the end of the article. Have fun reading.
You finally got the call you’ve been waiting for – you’ve scored an interview for your dream job. As you get your best interview suit ready, you run through possible answers to the interviewer’s questions in your head. You’ve got a 90-second speech to answer the “Tell me about yourself” opener, and you’ve come up with a weakness that’s an actual weakness, and one that won’t take you out of the running. You’re calm, cool and collected – and confident that you’ll wow the interviewer and be considered an offer within a few days.
Not so fast.
Even if your résumé contains everything the employer is looking for or you look the part and practice your answers a dozen times before you go into the meeting, you can still blow your interview.
It may sound surprising, but even the most polished and accomplished jobseekers still make interview mistakes that can cost them the gig. Knowing what these mistakes are – and how to avoid them – can keep you on top of the employer’s short list, though.
Keep these points in mind before you go to your next interview, and you won’t be kicking yourself saying “How could I have done that?” when you leave the building.
- Showing Up Late. And Not Calling
Things happen. The alarm clock doesn’t go off, the bus breaks down, or has a flat tire, you got stuck in a bad traffic – name all the worst things that could happen on that very important day. But while you should always plan to arrive for an interview at least 15 minutes early, your best plans may fall apart and being late is unavoidable. And if you want to blow your chances at landing the job, don’t bother to call and let the interviewer know that you’ve run into a snag.
A better move however would be to call the interviewer and let him know what’s happening as soon as you realize there is a problem, you can also give an estimated time of arrival. Many executives have busy schedules, and when you are even a few minutes late, it can throw off the entire day. Letting your interviewer know you’ll be late shows you respect him and value his time. It’s a gesture that can steer up a positive impression about you.
- Talk Negatively About Others
Your former boss was a tyrant, refusing to let you leave the office early to take courses toward your degree and removed the free coffee in the break room; it can be so tempting to divulge these details, and given the opportunity to out him for the jerk that he was, you want to jump on it . . . except that by doing so, you make yourself look bad and it won’t impress the interviewer.
Never say anything bad about anyone else, even when presented with a golden opportunity. Take the high road and keep your opinions to yourself.
- Be Rude to the Receptionist
You’re interviewing at a busy doctor’s office and you have to wait several minutes to let the receptionist know you’ve arrived. You make your displeasure at the delay known – and cop an attitude with the office staff. Guess what? You might have a physical therapy degree from the best school, and oodles of experience, but you’ve probably just relegated yourself to the bottom of the list. The interviewer is probably going to hear about it if you’re not nice to the front office staff, so always smile and be polite to everyone – no matter how much you want to make a snide remark.
- Forget Where You Are
A job interview is an important step in building your career. It’s not a bar, or a coffee shop where you’re hanging out with your friends. So put away the cell phone, your BFF’s text can wait, and take care to make sure you look professional. If you smoke, don’t light up on the way to the office to avoid smelling like an ashtray and lay off the perfume. Be friendly, but not overly so – the interviewer doesn’t need to know about your sick cat or your issues with your neighbor.
- Don’t Send a Thank You Note.
Many recruiters report that they will cross even an ideal candidate off the list if she fails to follow up with a thank you note. Within 24 hours after your interview, send a note – preferably via regular mail – thanking the interviewer for his time and re-emphasising why you want the job.
Job interviews are stressful, but they are a necessary fact of life. Keep these points in mind, and you’re bound to make a good impression, land the job – and then you can tell your new co-workers all about your horrible ex-boss and your poor little kitty.
Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section below.
About the Author: Alexis Donaldson is a student working towards her healthcare administration degree. A former HR recruiter, she now volunteers at her local employment office, leading workshops for jobseekers on how to tailor their resumes and prepare for interviews.