The success of your career hinges on a successful interview. With so many job seekers underestimating the importance of this stage, it’s not hard to see why so many still fail to impress.

Preparation is the key to success with anything, and a job interview is no exception to this rule. You cannot simply turn up to a job interview without any prior planning or research and hope to give it your best. Although you may have many years of work experience and have attended countless interviews, there really still is no substitution for planning and preparation.

Here are 10 things you must avoid in a job interview.

1. A lack of preparation

Preparing for a job interview comes down to research. You need to find out as much about the company as possible so you are able to impress them with your knowledge. Most candidates still enter the interview with little or even no knowledge of what the company does. This is just unacceptable to the employer, but can be easily overcome.

There is usually information to be found online via the company website. This should give you a clear indication of what they do and who their customers are. You can then begin to construct your answers from the types of questions you are likely to be asked. Consider how your skills would benefit the employer and you’ll be able to provide more natural and confident answers.

2. Underestimating practice

Now that you’ve done your research it’s time to practice. This isn’t something you should avoid as it is probably the single most important thing you can do before a job interview. It will help to shake out those nerves and become more confident with your answers.

Unless you are naturally amazing at job interviews you are going to need to practice how you deliver your answers. So ask a friend or family member to take part and provide them a list of the most commonly asked interview questions. Ask them for feedback and to be honest – it’s the only way you can get better.

3. Being late

At all costs you must avoid being later for a job interview. Even just one minute over the scheduled time could result in a rejection. The employer may decide not to even see you and you will have wasted a huge amount of your own time.

Plan your journey ahead and even consider practicing it a few times. Choose the same day and time the week before and travel to the company. See how long it takes you to get there and then plan your leaving time accordingly. This is the best way to ensure you don’t encounter some unexpected traffic.

The ideal time to attend an interview is 15 minutes before. Any earlier could make it difficult for the employer to know what to do with you and it will just frustrate them. If you are really early (which is a good idea) you should just walk around for a little while or sit and read your CV. Arriving a few minutes before is still classed as on time, but won’t make a very good impression.

4. Dressing down

Taking an interview seriously means dressing for the occasion. The safest way to dress for an interview is to wear acceptable business wear. So polish your shoes and put your best shirt and suit on so you impress.

Avoid turning up in casual clothes as this will instantly say to the employer that you are not taking it seriously. The clothes you wear will make or break your chances of getting hired. Trainers are an absolute no-no, and only shoes will be acceptable.

5. Negative or closed body language

Avoid crossing your arms or slouching in your chair. This type of body language sends out the wrong signals and could divert the employer’s attention away from your answers. You want the employer to believe that you are confident and happy to be there, even if your nerves are trying to push through.

When practicing the interview with a friend, try to think about your body language. Were your arms crossed? Did you continue to make eye contact? Did you smile throughout? Ask your friend for feedback on your body language and try to find out how you came across.

Here are a few tips to help:

  • Smile when you greet the manager
  • Give a firm handshake
  • Thank them for seeing you and the opportunity
  • Sit up straight
  • Don’t cross your arms
  • Don’t slouch
  • Face the interviewer(s)
  • Make regular eye contact
  • Take notes (looks professional)

6. Sounding nervous

It can be hard not to sound nervous when you are, but there are a few things you can do to help. First of all, through lots of practice you should be able to improve your confidence. Secondly, consider recording yourself during a mock interview so you can hear and see how you come across.

Listen to see if you are too quiet or too loud. If you are naturally a quiet speaker you need to be aware that this could make you sound nervous or not confident with your answers. Too loud will come across as over confident, arrogant and a little brash.

By recording yourself you can start to tweak the way you speak and ensure you sound less nervous. You are more likely to be hired if you sound confident because the employer is going to have more faith in your claimed abilities.

7. Being negative about your previous employers

Bad mouthing your previous employers will not have the desired affect you’d hope for. The new employer won’t sympathise with you or care about your issues. Your past grudges need to be avoided and only positive things should be discussed in a job interview.

If the employer asks why you left a previous role you should provide positive and constructive reasons. Even though your boss was difficult to work with and you thought their management style was horrendous, you should instead discuss how you wanted to advance your career. If you choose to be honest and complain about them, your potential new employer could feel that you mind end up feeling the same way about them.

8. Lying or embellishing

Avoid embellishing your credentials in a job interview. It isn’t fair to the employer if you provide false information or make yourself look better than you actually are. There is a fine line between providing positive answers about your skills and giving incorrect information, so make sure you walk it correctly.

Telling an outright lie in the interview is wrong and should be avoided at all costs. It will not benefit you are the employer if you tell lies about your skills and experience. Instead, focus upon what you can do rather than what you can’t. You are likely to be caught out anyway as the employer will be using your CV to construct their questions.

If you are found to have lied on your CV or during the interview after you’ve been hired, the employer may sack you on the spot. They are well within their rights to do so, even if you are doing a good job. This means you’d be back to square one and you may even taint your reputation within the industry.

9. Talking about salary or benefits

Avoid talking about the salary during the interview, unless the employer raises the issue. Bringing up this subject puts the employer on the back foot and potentially looks like that’s all you’re interested in.

Focus everything on the role and the company, and show how interested you are in working for them. Although the salary is important to you, the employer wants to see that you are passionate about working for them. Wait until a second interview or if you’re offered the job.

10. Asking questions

You shouldn’t avoid asking questions of your own in a job interview. Although you are the one who’s being questioned you should take an interest in the company by asking your own. It will again show how passionate you are about working for them.

Ask questions throughout if you are unsure of anything, and also prepare some questions in advance for the end of the interview. Try to be specific about the role and also ask some general questions about the company. Here are a few examples:

  • What type of candidate are you looking for?
  • What are the biggest challenges in this role?
  • How would you describe the working culture?
  • What training and support do you offer a new employee?

Take notes when given the answers to further show how engaged and interested you are in the company. This will make a fantastic and memorable impression before you thank them for their time and leave.

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