19 interview mistakes young people make that cost them good jobs

At Business Insider we have interviewed hundreds of job applicants.

Go straight to the list of their mistakes >

We are usually impressed with the calibre of candidates. Most people we meet seem smart and accomplished, and applicants “get” our all-digital, fast-paced, anti-boring way of handling business news.

But … young people are human, too. They make mistakes. And those mistakes have cost them the jobs their CVs otherwise said they were good for.

18. Not telling a good story about your life.

A job interview is a very small window of time in which we try to get to know you. Who are you, what are you good at, and what do you want to do with your life? We want a quick, clear history of your life and career so far. At Business Insider storytelling is literally what we do, but at any company communications are key. If you cannot communicate who you are quickly, you're not getting the job.

Tip: Write it down beforehand and rehearse with a friend.

17. Being overly sarcastic or negative.

We do not expect you to be a cheerleader. But if we hire you, we're going to be spending a lot of time together, so we don't want you killing the buzz.

Tip: Just be nice. Smile.

15. Not knowing anything about the field you're interviewing for.

If you're interviewing for a job that requires you to stay abreast of the technology industry, obviously we're going to ask you what you think is so interesting about tech. So if you're answer is ...

'Er ... '

Then we're going to be less than impressed.

Tip: Prepare! Literally write some speaking points on a notepad before you arrive at the interview. It will help you in case you freeze.

14. Sending email attachments.

It's a virus.

We hate downloading email attachments because of the malware risk they pose. If you only use text and links in your application email, we can see your stuff on our phones as well as on our laptops.

Tip: Your CV or resume is best displayed as a LinkedIn URL. Examples of your work are most easily seen if they come as links within the email.

8. Putting career 'objectives' at the top of your resume.

Young candidates pad their CVs with fluffy, cliched career goal statements.

Do not do this!

Tip: We want to see only a simple list of your education and work experiences, and maybe a list of other useful skills at the bottom.

7. Trying to impress us with your off-the-wall creativity.

We're looking for people who seem reliable and trustworthy. We're not looking for weirdos who want to blow our minds. One job application began, 'I am a chameleon ...' It went downhill from there.

Tip: We want to be able to trust you. So behave and communicate in a way that feels reliable and trustworthy.

6. Sending us a video resume.

We need resumes to be sent easily via email to other HR staff, and we may want to print them out so we can compare candidates side by side. Off-format CVs are useless for this.

Tip: Your best bet? LinkedIn.

5. Failing to provide a link to your LinkedIn profile.

We can't emphasise this enough: When you have to compare hundreds of CVs, LinkedIn is really useful because it makes all candidates' resumes look the same -- and that makes it easier for us to figure out who is relevant and who isn't.

Tip: A LinkedIn URL in an email is a lot easier for us to deal with than a Word or PDF attachment.

4. Eating a sandwich during our meeting.

If you're discussing a potential job with an employer over 'coffee,' don't break out one of Starbucks' 'Sure As Eggs Is Eggs' sandwiches; it's distracting.

Tip: Drink coffee or tea or water or nothing, if offered.

3. Being 'low-energy.'

Demonstrating the correct level of 'energy' during a job interview is a tough call: You want to demonstrate that you're a low-drama person but not a monosyllabic introvert; you're happy to be here, but we don't want you bouncing off the walls like a crazy person.

Tip: If we can see you're excited at the idea of working for us, we're more likely to get excited about the idea of giving you a job.

1. Making your CV three pages long when you have no experience.


Don't worry about your CV not looking full enough -- that's OK. We don't have a lot of time to figure out what your job history is.

Tip: Less is more with resumes -- we skim them for only about 30 seconds anyway.

So now you've got the job, how are you going to spend the money?

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