9 First Interview Mistakes That Could Cost You the Job

BUILD MY RESUME

Avoid these common first interview mistakes and land the job of your dreams.

You’ve gone through the hard work of creating a solid resume and cover letter and preparing for your first interview. Now is not the time to fall prey to common first interview mistakes. In a world where you have fierce competition for every position, these 9 common interview mistakes could ultimately cost you the job. The good news is that, while you can’t afford even the slightest misstep, these interview mistakes are easily avoided.

Circumventing these blunders is simple with a little bit of practice and awareness. Study these first interview no-nos and these kick bad interview habits to the door before your first interview.

1. Showing No Interest in the Job

Build My ResumeYou don’t want to appear desperate during your first interview, but you also don’t want to appear blasé. Most recruiters have more applicants than they need for every job, and disinterest in the job, the company, or the people interviewing you can quickly put you at the bottom

Instead, show up on time an appropriate outfit. Never leave your cell phone on during an interview, and make sure to express your enthusiasm about the role. Acting too cool for school isn’t the attitude you want to project during a first job interview.

2. Sharing Too Much Information (TMI)

You always want to be honest during an interview, but there is a fine line between honesty and too much information. Don’t approach the interview planning to spill your guts and avoid inappropriate personal talk. If you are asked a hard question about your past work history, answer the question as truthfully as possible without giving away any extra information. Don’t keep rambling to fill the silence. Instead, end the discussion with a question of your own after you’ve given a truthful answer.

3. Ignoring Social Cues

While your own body language is important, reading the body language of the person interviewing you is also vital to your success. If you are too focused on formulating a response to a question, you may miss important pieces of information or cues from the interviewer. Listen to what the person interviewing you is saying rather than concentrating solely on what you are going to say next. You can often glean important information about what they are looking for simply by how they say it.

4. Not Preparing an Elevator Pitch

During almost every first interview, you will hear some form of the question, “Tell me about yourself.” If you aren’t prepared to answer with an elevator pitch, you’ll start the interview out seeming fumbling and nervous, rather than practiced and confident. As most interviewers have a short attention span, it’s impossible to wing this part of the interview without sounding unprepared and uninterested. Practice a short elevator pitch at home before your interview. It should be no more than two minutes long — or the length of the average elevator ride.

5. Dressing Inappropriately

You may think your most fashionable outfit advertises originality and personality, but in a first interview, it could come across as nothing more than gaudy or unprofessional. What you wear to a first interview matters so make sure your clothing is always clean, pressed and appropriate for the job. You want the attention focused on your words and skills, not on what you’re wearing.

6. Trying to Be a Comedian

While a first interview is a great chance to highlight your personality and how well you fit in with people, you can take it too far. Having lighthearted conversation with your interviewer is great but going for laughs at the expense of answering serious questions may be stepping over the line. Be friendly but not uproarious, and outgoing but not overbearing. You want to be remembered as a serious candidate, not as a clown.

7. Not Minding Your Manners

Your mother taught you well, and an interview is the perfect time to trot out your perfect manners. Etiquette is an important part of a first interview; your manners show that you can handle yourself in a professional situation. Don’t bring food or drinks into a first interview, and never chew gum. Be polite to everyone you meet once you’ve entered the building — you never know if you are holding the door for the receptionist or the CEO, so always be on your best behavior.

8. Not Asking Questions

A first interview is more than you trying to make a sale — the company also needs to have the chance to hook you in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that show you are truly interested in the job and the company. It may require some legwork to formulate questions that probe deeper than what can be uncovered in a Google search. Come prepared with several questions for your interviewer. You will likely get a chance at the end to ask anything that hasn’t come up naturally during the interview.

9. Discussing Salary Too Early

A first interview is rarely a good time to discuss salary or benefits unless you’ve been offered the position on the spot. Save those questions for after you’ve been offered the job. At that point, there will be plenty of time to negotiate salary and investigate the benefits your new company has to offer.

Remember, avoiding these common first interview mistakes can give you a jump on the competition, and stop you from sabotaging your chance at the right job.

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