Job hunting might be easier if a resume were all you needed to get an offer, but relevant work experience and the perfect resume can only take you part of the way. To win the hearts of the hiring team and earn the job, you must excel during your interview.
The job interview plays a vital role because it allows employers to see candidates in action and decide on the best fit for the team. But even if you feel ready for an interview and your technical skills match the position, some basic mistakes can ruin your chances. To help you make your best impression, we created this list of common errors to avoid during job interviews.
- Speaking poorly of your current job
Negative comments about your current job can look like poor motivation or laziness. You might not like some things about your current job, and you are free to search for a better position, but avoid bad-mouthing your current employer during an interview.
- Mentioning conflicts at work
Teams consist of various professionals with different personalities, and some people are difficult to handle. Desirable employees can work effectively with diverse groups of people and resolve disagreements before they become significant problems. Discussing ongoing conflicts with co-workers during an interview might raise a red flag for the hiring team by making them wonder if you are the problem.
- Giving unclear answers
Try to connect all of your interview responses to the job you are trying to get. For instance, when applying for a QA job, your answers should not focus on coding or general project management. It is easy to get sidetracked talking about a different type of job and not answer the question or get too personal in your responses. Spend some time before your interview practicing specific answers to questions you might be asked.
- Lying about what you know
Be honest about which tools you know how to use. If you are questioned about an unfamiliar tool, show your willingness to learn by asking for some time (an hour or so) to look it up online.
- Making inappropriate jokes
A good sense of humor can help you in an interview, but be careful about which topics you choose. Do not make jokes about gender, race, health, religion, or other potentially offensive areas. The wrong joke can make you seem rude or inflexible and raise concerns that you could create conflict in a team.
- Talking about professional failures
Refrain from discussing times you missed a deadline or failed to complete a task. Bringing up your mistakes can make you seem unqualified when you want to look ready for challenges and eager to learn. If you are asked a specific question about a time you failed, focus on what you learned from the situation and how it made you a better professional.
- Asking questions about money
First, persuade the hiring team that you are the person for the job. If you get an offer, the company will include your potential compensation, and you can negotiate from there. Asking salary questions during an interview can make you look like a mercenary and decrease your chances of moving forward in the interview process.
- Seeming desperate
Life is full of twists and turns. Maybe you lost your job and have spent months looking for a new one; perhaps you are on the edge of bankruptcy and need this job badly to pay bills. Every person has different reasons pushing them to search for new opportunities, and sometimes the situation can be dire. However, letting your desperation show in an interview is a sure way to lose the opportunity.
Careerist recommends setting yourself up for success by keeping your current job until you get a new offer. Having a job while interviewing can help you feel calmer, which translates to appearing more confident and professional in an interview.
- Agreeing too quickly
Your first offer might not be your best offer, so take your time accepting it. Just as desperation can ruin your appeal in an interview, it can make you rush to take a subpar offer. Negotiating salary and benefits is standard practice, so there is no need to be shy on those points — speak up for what you want. However, other parts of the contract can be less flexible, and you should evaluate the entire offer carefully.
- Making written mistakes
You might not always communicate with a potential employer on the phone. Sometimes you will need to write responses. Before hitting the “Send” button, check your text via the default proofreader on Google Docs or Microsoft Word. An online grammar tool such as Grammarly can also be helpful. Ensure your response has the right tone and is free of typos or grammar slips.
- Being arrogant
Your future job in tech requires excellent communication and being approachable. Stay pleasant, friendly, and polite. Be the person you would like to hire yourself one day.
- Wearing inappropriate clothes
According to Careerist data, there has been an increasing trend toward online video interviews over the last few years. Being interviewed from home does not make it acceptable to wear pajamas or overly casual clothes. Sticking to a smart-casual style will help you strike the perfect balance between professional and approachable, which sets the right tone for both online and offline interviews.
- Not acting natural
Try to relax and shelve your worries for a few hours. To help you behave more naturally, soothe your mind by not putting too many expectations on interview outcomes. Accept interviews for practice rather than only at decisive career moments. This mindset will help your discussions flow more smoothly.
- Being unprepared
Interviews require preparation. Before your interview, review your technical knowledge and research the company conducting the interview. Be ready to answer questions like “what do you know about our company,” or “why do you want to work with us.”
- Having poor body language
Do your best to stay focused and engaged with what is happening during the meeting. Do not cross your arms, slouch, roll your eyes, or chew gum. Instead, sit back in your chair with your chest open.
Landing a job takes more than exciting work experience, a well-structured CV, and a tailored LinkedIn profile. You must demonstrate your soft skills, knowledge, and professionalism during the interview to earn the offer. Requirements vary from company to company, so a hiring team is looking for someone with your skill set. We hope our list of what not to do will help you make the best possible first impression and secure a great job.