It’s rare to get a job without a job interview. In fact, there’s often two or three interviews. And while resumes are important, that first in-person impression is virtually always what seals a candidate’s fate–good or bad.
Mastering the art of the interview isn’t easy. Most people don’t have them very often and every interviewer is different. But there are still some universal mistakes that, somehow, job seekers still commonly make. Here we break down some of the most common nonverbal and verbal misakes people make during job interviews, according to research from Classes and Careers.
Five Common Nonverbal Mistakes
5. A weak handshake.
One of the first things you’re apt to do with your interviewer is shake his or her hand. The handshake isn’t quite as important as it was half a century ago but it’s still crucial to keep it firm. A weak or awkward handshake is something the other person will remember afterward and not in a good way. This mistake is made by 26% of job seekers.
4. Poor posture.
Don’t hunch your back or sink into your chair. Sit upright, keeping your back straight. Posture can send huge signals about your overall demeanour, even if they aren’t accurate, so present yourself well—but don’t come across like a stiff robot. This mistake is made by 33% of job seekers.
A lot of people play with their fingers or clothing when feeling uneasy. Be conscious of your hands and don’t get caught fidgeting. This mistake is made by 33% of job seekers.
2. Not smiling.
Nervousness can overtake a smile but it won’t serve you well to look unhappy. Make sure you appear enthusiastic to have this opportunity. This mistake is made by 38% of job seekers.
1. Failure to make eye contact.
No nonverbal act is as strong as eye contact. Don’t stare deeply for creepy lengths of time at your interviewer, but make consistent and frequent eye contact, particularly when they’re talking to you to convey you’re listening. This mistake is made by 67% of job seekers.
Five Common Verbal Mistakes
5. Lacking humour and warmth.
When you’re nervous it can be difficult to be yourself. As a result you may look cold and boring. You don’t need to crack a knock-knock joke here but let yourself laugh if the moment arises and be verbally polite.
4. Concentrating too much on what you want.
Yes, you need the job. But don’t rant about your needs. Explain how you can benefit their organization. Recognize their problems and be their solution. One of the most common questions asked by employers is “Why do you want to work for us?” Answering “because I need…” is a very poor idea.
3. Inadequate research about a potential employer.
Another very common question is “what do you know about our company?” And what do you know? Sure you know the job description inside and out—but did you actually visit the company’s website, learn about their team, their history, their mission? Being very familiar with their organization will score huge points with interviewers. It shows you are dilligent and you care.
2. Failing to set yourself apart from other candidates.
Here’s your chance to be more than a resume. Don’t fall for the mistake of accepting mediocrity. You don’t have to be perfect—no one is—you just have to be better than the competition. Play up your strengths and if possible find something unique about what you can bring to the table.
1. Failing to ask for the job.
Don’t ever appear cocky, arrogant, or aggressive. But a little assertion can go a long way. An interviewer is unlikely to have an answer for you at the end of the first interview, but throughout your time with them, don’t be afraid to emphasize that this really is the job for you. They will sooner higher someone who they believe genuinely wants the job than someone who is different: after all, who will likely work harder and stay longer?