Watch Out for These 7 Common Interview Mistakes

Posted by Rob Riggins
interview mistake

Common interview mistakes to avoid in your cleared job search.

First impressions are critical in any interview scenario, whether it’s a phone screen, virtual, or in-person interview. The people you interview with will subconsciously make judgments about you within the first minutes of meeting you. Those impressions are influenced by many things beyond your skills, such as how you greet them, how you’re dressed, and so on.

Bad impressions are very difficult to overcome, so strive to make a positive first impression. As one recruiter shared with us, “Your career is very important to you. When I’m interviewing you, this is you at your very best. Make sure you’re ready.”

To that end, here are seven all-too-common interview mistakes to avoid based on feedback we’ve received from recruiters. Some are obvious, while others may not have occurred to you before.

1. Being late for the interview

This should go without saying. We all know being on time, particularly for an interview, is important. But things do happen and how you handle this situation is telling. If you’re going to be late call your contact. Apologize and let them know when you think you’ll arrive. When you do arrive, address the issue head on and apologize again for being late. If you’re a late person by nature, leave early. A plan to be on time is a plan to be late. This goes for virtual interviews as well. Always check your tech in advance to ensure you’re comfortable and capable of signing on when it’s show time.

2. Not dressing the part

This includes both dressing appropriately and grooming. A job interview is not the time to show your fashion bent, particularly in the conservative security cleared government contracting community. Looking your best shows the employer that you take the interview seriously. If you have any questions about appropriate interview attire, ask the recruiter beforehand. And if you’re preparing for a video interview, review these tips to ensure you and your background look polished.

3. Bringing up pay or benefits before the employer does

For security cleared job seekers, pay is often discussed much earlier than in other industries due to contract requirements. But let the employer bring up the subject first. You don’t want to present the impression that your salary and vacation are the only things you’re really interested in. Many recruiters do want to gauge your salary range up front, but let the recruiter take the lead. They want to make sure your expectations for the position are realistic. Nothing makes a recruiter look worse to a hiring manager than bringing in interview candidates with unrealistic salary expectations. When it is time for money talks, be prepared to negotiate your salary and benefits.

4. Throwing your previous or current employer under the bus

Take the high road. Never speak poorly of employers or co-workers because it may raise questions in the interviewer’s mind such as, are you impossible to please, or will you quit and badmouth them someday too? When discussing difficult situations you’ve encountered, choose your words carefully. Don’t finger point, and don’t blame. You’re a team player focused on finding solutions and problem solving. Review these different types of interview questions that recruiters routinely use to help you prepare and answer effectively.

5. Not asking questions

This interview mistake could either show that you’re not interested in the position or bored. Even if you think the interviewer has covered all the bases, you still need to ask them some questions. Take advantage of the opportunity to determine if the position offers the qualities you seek, and to show the hiring manager that you’re an active participant with a genuine interest. If you’re unsure what to ask, check out some of these questions to ask in an interview.

6. Talking too much or too little

A job interview is a two-way street. Both sides need to gather information from the other to make informed decisions. Strive for a balanced conversation and be sure to gather the information that you need to determine whether this is the right position for you. Focus on the interviewer and listen attentively. Look the interviewer in the eye when you speak, and when the interviewer speaks to you.

7. Exhibiting a bad attitude

We all have bad days, but in an interviewing situation you need to rise to the occasion. A positive attitude is critically important. In general, companies are looking for team players with positive, can-do attitudes. Having said that, you need to be genuine and authentic as well. When we’ve surveyed recruiters on the subject of attitude on a scale of 1 to 10, most recruiters rate the importance of attitude as a 10 or 11.

Keep these interviewing tips in mind for any interaction you have with an employer, whether it’s an initial phone screening, a conversation at a Cleared Job Fair, or a virtual or face-to-face interview.


This entry was posted on Monday, July 19, 2021 12:40 pm

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