Five Job Interview Mistakes

Having a good resumé can land you a job interview, but the interview itself is what lands you the job. A job interview is more than just a question-and-answer period; it's a conversation that gives the interviewer a better idea of what type of person you are and how well you'll fit into the company. Avoid the following interview mistakes for a better chance at winning that job and starting your career.

Not dressing the part

Don't choose what to wear based on what you think the company's dress code is. Come looking your best — for most job interviews, that means business formal. Even if you feel overdressed by comparison, a well-dressed, professional-looking person is taken more seriously than someone in jeans and a T-shirt.

Not coming prepared

Being prepared can make the interview run more smoothly and leave a more lasting good impression. Bring a few things with you to a job interview:

  • Two copies of your resumé: One copy is for you to refer to if the interviewer asks you something specific about it. The other copy is a standby in case the interviewer has mislaid his or her own copy, or if you're interviewed by multiple people and they come up a copy short.
  • A list of references with contact information: Even if you've already given that information, having it on hand can be helpful.
  • Paper and a pen: You never know whether your interviewer will give you some information worth writing down (scheduling a second interview, perhaps?). Be prepared.

Don't fidget with these items. Keep them in a nice leather folder or attaché case and don't even pull them out unless you need to use them.

Part of preparing is also getting ready to answer questions about yourself. Interviewers want to know how you will handle yourself in specific situations, so think about your past and be prepared to answer open-ended questions about how you have handled situations such as

  • Personal conflict with coworker
  • Professional disagreement with a coworker
  • Managing a group of people
  • Working within a team
  • Handling multiple deadlines

Not controlling yourself

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people fall into habits unconsciously, especially when they're nervous. Do your best to stay calm and pay attention to everything you do and say. Try to put yourself in your interviewer's position and

  • Don't bite your nails
  • Don't crack your knuckles
  • Don't fidget
  • Don't let your eyes wander
  • Watch your language
  • Think before you speak
  • Smile!

Your body language can tell your interviewer a lot about you. Pay attention to what it's saying.

Not being honest

It simply isn't true that everybody lies on their resumés. Lying, either on your resumé or during the interview, will only come back to haunt you, especially if you get the job. Getting caught in a lie during your interview earns your application a one-way trip to the circular file (that is, the wastebasket), and lying on your resumé can be grounds for immediate termination, even years after you've taken the job. Just don't do it.

Not asking questions

As Voltaire said, "Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." Interviewers usually leave a little time at the end to let you ask questions. If you really want to work for a company, this is the time to show it.

Based on your research of the company and information that came up during the interview, ask questions that reveal your interest in the company and how it works. This isn't the time to ask about paid time off and annual bonuses — save that for when you get the job offer. Instead, ask about things like company culture, community involvement and charity, and company-sponsored training and enrichment programs. If you show that you're excited about investing yourself in the company, the company will be more excited about investing in you.