You finally got that interview you’ve been hoping to land. Don’t blow it by making a bad first impression. Expect your interviewer to begin sizing you up the minute you step foot on the company’s property. Everything you do can, and will, be held against you, so make sure you don’t open the door to any negative snap judgments right from the start.
What will cause the employer to wrinkle his or her nose?
1. You’re already offering excuses. You’ve never been to this part of town at this hour, and you’re late. You have a good excuse –- or many excuses. Perhaps traffic was terrible, there was an accident, the road was closed or your GPS gave you the wrong directions. They could all be true, but the result is that you are late and coming up with reasons to explain away your mistake. While some employers may be willing to overlook this faux pas for extremely good candidates, expect to be digging yourself out of the proverbial hole if you can’t make it to the interview at least 10 or 15 minutes early.
2. You look like a slob. Perhaps you heard everyone wears T-shirts, flip-flops and cutoffs to work. That’s fine once you have the job, but it’s not interview attire. A three-piece suit would clearly be out of place in an extremely casual environment, but it’s professional and more respectful to dress a little better than the office dress code for an interview. In this case, don a pair of nice khaki pants and a shirt or blouse with a collar in order to avoid making the wrong impression.
3. You talk too much. It’s good to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the position, but do not go overboard and start telling the employer about how long you’ve been waiting for this opportunity, and how you really need this job so you don’t lose your car next month.
4. You don’t appear confident and poised. Studies show that body language speaks volumes, and employers will decide if you are professional and and self-assured from the moment they see you. Stand up straight, smile and look the interviewer in the eye. Practice your firm handshake and learn to sit up straight without appearing stiff or uncomfortable. Otherwise, you risk coming off as someone who isn’t prepared for the position.
5.You cannot get to the point. People do not generally have very long attention spans. If you bore the interviewer with long, overly detailed replies to questions, you will quickly lose your opportunity to land the job. Practice succinctly answering questions so you don’t lose your listener’s attention before you get to the point.
6. You are unprepared. One of the biggest pet peeves interviewers share is that candidates are unprepared and do not conduct crucial research about the position or the company before their interviews. Do not expect to show up and ask things such as, “What does this company do?” or “What job is this, again?” if you want to impress the employer.
Instead, do some research and be ready to ask questions during the interview that you could not easily answer via your own research. It’s even better if you can illustrate that you know important things about the company in the course of the conversation. For example, “I read in last month’s Forbes magazine that your company is looking to acquire a tech firm. How do you think that potential acquisition may affect this department?” It’s even better if you can follow up with some specifics about how your skills and background will make you a great candidate to help accomplish whatever goals the employer mentions.
If you are interested in the job, don’t inadvertently give the impression that you could care less. Focus on both the big and little details if you want to stay in the running for your dream job.
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