The drum is beating for a new job in 2013. It's up to you to make it happen, and it's not as hard as you may think. Simple steps make all the difference, especially when it comes to successful interviews.
Avoid these killer interview mistakes and you'll be that much closer to a new job:
1. Don't prepare what to wear. This is a bigger mistake than you may realize. When you reach into your closet to select your interview attire and find something has chewed its way through the sleeve, or you forgot the huge ketchup stain on your lucky tie, you could be in trouble if you don't have a plan B. How you look is important, and you need to present a professional appearance. Even if you aren't interviewing to be a fashion diva, consider preparing what to wear a priority.
2. Ignore your Ps and Qs. You never know who is walking in right behind you on your way to the interview. It won't make a very good impression if you let the door slam on your interviewer. Everything you do or say at the interview – or on the way to the interview – can be part of the evaluation. Some companies ask the receptionist for an opinion about candidates. If you sat around rolling your eyes or acting annoyed while you waited, you're not likely to land the job.
3. Help yourself to a chair before someone offers it to you. It's just common courtesy to wait to be offered a seat.
4. Answer your cell phone. It doesn't matter how important you are: turn off your cell phone and put it away when you're interviewing. If you forget and instinctively answer it when it rings or buzzes, you may be saying goodbye to a new opportunity.
5. You don't know why you want the job. Okay, we all know you want a job, but why this particular position? If you don't know why this job is a good fit, you're wasting everyone's time with the interview. You should know what the job involves, why your skills are a good fit and why you are a better candidate than the last person interviewed.
6. Your answers ramble on. Do not torture your interviewer by drawing out your answers. Answer the question and be done – do not elaborate or expand on your answers more than necessary. How long should answers be? Just long enough to address the question and make sure the interviewer has a chance to picture you doing the job.
7. You're making lame jokes. Don't joke. Even if you think your jokes are funny, keep them out of the interview room. You are equally likely to offend as you are to amuse an interviewer, so don't take a chance.
8. You're badmouthing your previous employer. It doesn't matter if you worked for Atilla the Hun, your interviewer does not need to know how terribly your old employer treated you. Keep it to yourself, and do not be tempted to share stories – no matter what the interviewer asks you.
9. You're offering up lots of information. Yes, there is such a thing is "TMI" in an interview. This phenomenon happens when the job seeker gets nervous and starts sharing information that isn't really relevant or, worse, is detrimental.
10. You can't 'tell me about yourself.' If you don't have an answer to this obvious question, things probably aren't going to go very smoothly. Be prepared to introduce yourself without delving into inconsequential biographical details. Never start, "I was born in..." If you do, you can be sure your interviewer has already checked out. Instead, focus on how the position is a good fit based on your past experiences and accomplishments and spare the interviewer the details about where you grew up!
11. You don't have your story straight. No one is suggesting you lie in an interview, but many job seekers have stories they'd rather not tell. For example, if they were fired, or if they had a major personality clash with their former boss. If you have this type of history in your background, the best solution is to decide how to address it before you get to the interview, so if it comes up, there's nothing to be surprised about. Your goal? Get in and get out – not literally, but figuratively: quickly address the question and then stop talking.
12. You have nothing to ask. Seriously – if you want the job, you should have several well-considered inquiries for your interviewer that cannot be answered with a quick Google search about the company. You'll be surprised by how few candidates make a point to research organizations before they interview, so any pointed questions referencing your research should help impress your interviewer.
13. You don't follow up. Statistically, few people actually send thank you notes after interviews. You have a chance to make a positive impression when you follow up with targeted, error-free notes thanking your interviewer for his or her time. Include several key reminders of why you are the best candidate for the job.
Miriam Salpeter on Jan 8th 2013