We’ve talked a lot here about ways to put your best foot forward during an interview. You know to come prepared, to master those tough interview questions, to dress professionally, and to project confidence. But what about bad habits and off-putting behavior you might not realize sneak into these important interactions? Here’s a list of mistakes to read over before any interview—avoid the following and you’ll be well on your way to getting hired.
1. You’re too nervous
Even if you’re so nervous you could pee, try and keep your cool. Present yourself at your best and most confident, even if you have to fake it. And never ever say you’re nervous. Your interviewer won’t think you can handle the job if the interview has you that shaken up!
2. All you can talk about is money
Just like on a first few date with someone new, it’s not a good idea to harp on compensation. Salary negotiations are important, but can (and should) be done at the end of the interview process. Focus instead on figuring out whether you’re a good fit for the company and vice versa.
3. You tell the interviewer about your weaknesses
Unless they explicitly ask you the old “What’s your biggest weakness?” question or you’ve got a great story of overcoming and self-improvement, hold your tongue. Focus on your strengths instead.
4. You appear too desperate
The time for making demands comes later. Early on, you’re trying to show the company that you can give them what they need—not the other way around. Desperation often looks like weakness. And asking for too much too soon can make you seem high-maintenance.
5. All you can talk about is the perks
Okay, so they have a swimming pool in the lobby and Summer Fridays and an ice cream truck. Or a Cadillac insurance policy. Shut up about it. Your employer will think you’re only after the job for the benefits, not the work. You’ll get the perks when you get the job!
6. You use negative keywords
Strike all words like “terrible,” “awful,” “no good,” “very bad,” etc. from your interview vocabulary. Don’t talk about how “horrible” your last job was, or even how much you “hate” the new season of True Detective. You’ll sound bitter, disloyal, and like someone who won’t be a lot of fun to be around.
7. You use words that come off as dismissive or passive aggressive
There’s no way to not feel like a person is concealing something when you ask her how she is and she says, “fine.” It’s vague at best, dismissive at worst, and just makes you look incapable of clear and honest communication. Come up with something better!
8. You accidentally swear
Just don’t do it. Even if your interviewer does. There’s a time and a place for four-letter words and the one hour in which you’re trying to make your best first impression is not that time.
9. You apologize too much during the interview
Never use “sorry” as conversation filler or to try and sound more polite. It can make you seem passive, indecisive, or worse—passive aggressive—and you won’t project the confidence you need to get the job.
10. You reveal too many personal matters
Consider “divorce,” “pregnant,” “sick,” and other personal life issue words forbidden for the interview. Don’t give your interviewer any reason to question your job performance.
11. You use too many filler keywords
Filler words like “actually” and “just” are often conversational tics that don’t communicate much. “Actually” can also seem quite alienating when used to correct something the interviewer said. Focus instead on speaking clearly and concisely and communicating precisely what you mean to say.
12. You asked about the vacation packages
Asking about time off and vacation packages at your interview makes it look like you can’t wait to max out your sick days and miss as much work as you can get away with. Save these important questions for the follow-up interviews or your HR rep.
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