There are a heap of interviewing ‘how to’ guides out there, but for today’s post, I thought I’d cut to the chase. 

If we’re brutally honest, there are a few mistakes people make in interviews that spell immediate doom. 

A poll around the office narrowed it down to these top five.

1. Bad body language

A limp, crushing, or creepy handshake is a universal pet peeve.  Poor eye contact, toe-tapping, leg-jittering or fidgeting is a clear sign of nervousness or impatience. Slouching shows a lack of confidence, while at the other end of the spectrum, there’s the ‘alpha male’ pose (leaning back in the seat with splayed legs, sometimes with an added hands-behind-head pose, for an extra measure of arrogance).

This stuff seems kinda obvious, but it’s easy to send the wrong message under pressure. Check out this brilliant TED talk on how your body language affects other people’s perceptions of you.

2. Going rogue

One of the surest ways to sabotage your chances is by not respecting the interviewer’s agenda. Aside from being a demonstration of poor interpersonal skills, if you go way off-topic or talk too much, you risk the meeting finishing without the interviewer having got the information they needed from you: Game over.

To keep yourself on track, listen carefully to questions and ask for clarification if necessary, and pay attention to your interviewer’s body language – if she’s shuffling his papers, clearing her throat or losing eye contact, then it’s time to wrap it up.

3. Slating past employers

Most of us have had bad experiences with past employers, but it’s a sign of maturity to be able to talk about your reasons for leaving in a tactful way. If you lay it out warts and all, the interviewer will get nervous about how you’ll represent them if they hire you.  And if you repeatedly cite conflict with your colleagues as the reason for leaving your jobs, all he’ll be aware of is that you’re the one common denominator in all of the situations you’re describing.

4. Trying too hard

The ability to confidently talk about your achievements  is something many of us need to work on, but it’s got to be done right. Saying ‘I’m just really intelligent’ (actual quote, by the way) is meaningless: let’s be honest, most of us think we’re pretty bright.  Let appropriate, concrete examples of your achievements do the talking instead. And remember, you don’t need to have the answer to everything. It’s much better to simply say you don’t know than to expound on a subject you don’t actually have much knowledge of.

5. Not trying hard enough

Enthusiasm and positivity count for a hell of a lot; if it comes down a choice between two otherwise similarly-qualified candidates, the one who demonstrates the most interest in the role is going to win hands-down.

If you’re excited about the job (and if you’re not, I beg you: please don’t attend the interview!), then be sure to show it. Do your research on the company so you can come prepared with some good questions.  Finish by letting the interviewer know you’ve enjoyed meeting them and you’re looking forward to the next step.  

Easy right? Once you've nailed the basics, check out a few more of our job search posts (at right) for more in-depth interview prep. 

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