Sometimes it feels like everybody on the internet has a set of job interview tips and best practices that will all but guarantee success. From recommending what to wear to what body language to use to impress hiring managers, the ace-your-interview industry is as pervasive as it is overwhelming.
So if you’re prepping for an interview, it might help to put aside the “do’s” for a moment and focus on some of the “don’ts.” There’s more consensus around what not to do, and recognizing a few common errors can help you present a favorable and honest picture of your skills and experience.
Don’t neglect preparation
This may seem like the most obvious job interview tip, but some candidates don’t give preparation the attention it deserves. Prepare by mentally rehearsing your answers to typical job interview questions (such as “Why do you want to work here?”), but also ask yourself what you’d like to know if you were the interviewer.
If possible, rehearse your answers with a trusted friend or colleague. A phrase that sounds smooth and convincing in your head may sound awkward and unpersuasive when spoken out loud. A sympathetic listener can also give helpful feedback and suggest ways to make your responses more precise and compelling.
The more you prepare, the more confident you’ll come across during the interview. And hiring managers certainly take note of that.
Don’t be caught off guard
Preparation includes being ready for anything. Rather than worrying about off-the-wall questions or an unexpected turn in the conversation, go into the interview with the attitude that no matter what you’re asked, you’ll be getting the chance to show that you can think on your feet. Encourage your interview rehearsal buddy to throw a few curveballs at you and more generic questions, too, so you feel ready for just about anything.
Don’t expect just one type of question
In addition to being ready for outside-of-the-box questions, be aware that the interviewer could employ other types of questions, including closed-ended, open-ended, hypothetical and leading. While short answers are fine for closed-ended questions, your answers to other questions will likely need to be a little more detailed and expansive.
Don’t forget to research the business
Perhaps the biggest mistake applicants make in interviews is not knowing enough about the company they’re trying to join. Do some digging online — and not only on the company’s website, but also use third-party resources like LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Tap members of your network for their insights, and work with a recruiter who can offer additional information about the firm. Also, use resources like the Robert Half Salary Guide to research broader trends in your sector to prepare yourself for answering questions and offering insights about the industry’s overall direction.
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Don’t let nerves undercut your communication skills
Keep your responses to interview questions concise. Avoid verbal crutches such as “um,” “like” and “uh,” and refrain from making a lot of jokes or discussing controversial subjects. At the same time, don’t take yourself so seriously that you come off as robotic, inauthentic or pretentious. If you lose your train of thought mid-answer, don’t criticize yourself out loud or launch into a lengthy apology. Just pause, regroup and start again.
Don’t exaggerate your interest or qualifications
This is one of our most important job interview tips. While it’s necessary to express enthusiasm for the position, candidates who answer every question with upbeat eagerness may come across as insincere. It’s also important to avoid overstating your qualifications. Hiring managers can often see through this tactic with ease.
Don’t regard virtual interviews as less formal than in-person ones
Video interviews are standard in the age of remote and hybrid working, but you shouldn’t see them as an opportunity to let your guard down. Dress as you would for an in-person interview (yes, that includes from the waist down), make sure your backdrop is tidy and log in a few minutes early, so you have time to reboot in the event of any technical glitches.
Don’t be negative
No list of job interview tips would be complete without this advice. Avoid disparaging comments regarding former employers, colleagues and companies. Also, stay away from self-deprecating comments that do not support a positive image or demonstrate competence. You should always stay professional regardless of how casual the interviewer is in their attire or demeanor.
Hungry for more advice? We have plenty more job interview tips to help you make the perfect first impression with a prospective employer. Good luck!