What are some of the most common mistakes people make in job interviews? How can these mistakes be avoided?

Mistakes I’ve seen a lot of hi-po (high potential) candidates make:

  • being totally uninformed about the company they’re interviewing at.
  • for popular consumer internet companies, not having created an account or tried out the product even minimally before coming to interview – shows you don’t do your homework.
  • trying to show off and failing.  Showing off is a gamble: if you pull it off, good for you.  If not, expect no sympathy.
  • lying about having been given a question before (by another interviewer) when the interviewer asks if you’ve gotten it before.
  • lying in general, and then getting caught.
  • claiming expertise on things in their resume they don’t know anything about and expecting not to get asked about them, and then failing miserably.
  • swearing, or being excessively inappropriate in other ways.
  • being disrespectful to some of your interviewers (I once had a candidate who was respectful to all his male interviewers and totally rude to all his female interviewers).
  • outright insulting your interviewers, or really any group of people in general.

There are some straightforward ways to avoid these errors:

  • do your homework about the company.
  • know what you know, and know how to demonstrate it.  This will make you both confident in yourself yet humble about what you don’t know.
  • don’t lie, of course.
  • be respectful in your thoughts, and it will show in your words.
  • go along with them.  They might ask you to jump through a few hoops – that’s fine, this is an interview and they probably have a routine.  No one ever lost a job because the interviewer said, “Man, that guy was just way too willing to jump through all my hoops!”  If it’s too excessive, you can easily decline the offer later, but it’s not worth it to prove how cool a rebel you are in the interview.
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Let me share a post our guy wrote about common interview mistakes and how to address and prevent them:

Mistake #1: Poor body language
Everyone gets nervous to some extent during an interview. It can be nerve-racking to feel you’re being evaluated with every sentence and pause. However, it’s vital to your interview’s success to create a connection with the interviewer—so that means you shouldn’t act like a stiff, boring version of yourself. Although your body language should also not be a distraction from your answers, it’s okay to look at the interviewer or use normal hand gestures while you’re speaking.
It’s also important to know what your nervous habits are. For example, twirling your hair, fidgeting in your chair or clicking a pen—these can all be distracting for the interviewer and make you look less than professional.

Mistake #2: Arriving unprepared
You need to know as much as possible about the company and the position before walking into your interview. Many hiring managers ask simple questions about the organization, such as what their main products or services are, during an interview. Others may go farther in depth, asking about recent news or trends that should have come up in a quick search of the company name.
Another aspect of coming prepared is to bring another copy of your resume (or copies if it is a panel or group interview), a pen, a pad of paper for notes, and business cards. Depending on your field, you may also be asked to bring your professional portfolio or other materials.

Mistake #3: Talking badly about a former employer
Although you may be in this interview because of a bad experience elsewhere, it’s important not to bring up your “dirt” from the last job you were at. It’s an instant red flag for the hiring manager and makes you look unprofessional. To be frank, just don’t do it.

Mistake #4: Talking too much or not enough
By now, you probably have a good idea of which questions a hiring manager will ask during an interview. If not, do a quick Google search to find the most common questions. Then, practice your answers! Enlist a friend or family member to help or record yourself on your webcam. It’s the best way to figure out how you’ll appear during an interview.
When you play back your responses (or have your friend give you feedback), determine which answers you need to work on. Did you talk too long or go off-topic? Did you provide very short answers, leaving the person wanting to know more? Find that balance between the two and you’ll leave your interviewer impressed.

Mistake #5: Failing to sell yourself
During an interview, the hiring manager is determining your fit with the organization and position. Make it easy for them by clearly connecting the dots between your experience and skills and the position at hand. Come into the interview with confidence that you could be the right fit for the job.

Answered on April 28, 2019.
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