Top 5 Ways to Prevent a Bad Interview

Interviews are a stressful process. Sometimes, this stress can cause you to fall into common traps and even make wacky mistakes during your job search. For instance, just because you were too nervous to eat before the interview doesn’t mean you should empty the interviewer’s candy dish into your pocket. Employers tend not to hire people who steal their candy! This is just one example of some over-the-top ways job seekers have bombed interviews from a recent CareerBuilder survey.

The truth is, mistakes aren’t usually as dramatic as getting on the phone with your current employer to fake an illness while your interviewer looks on in horror. In fact, you’re probably good at the broad outlines of the interview process. You know to be polite, show up on time, and avoid candy theft. It’s the more subtle aspects of the interview process you might be getting wrong.

Interview success is only around the corner…if you know to avoid common mistakes. Prevention is key and knowledge is power. Here are five ways to prevent a job interview from going south and nab your dream job instead:

1) Create a Relationship with Your Interviewer

It’s important to build a rapport with your interviewer right away. This process can start early, before you’re even sitting across the desk in the interview. Make sure all communication with your interviewer (whether through email or over the phone) is professional, polite, and friendly.

Do not, however, take this friendliness too far. One of the outrageous examples cited in the CareerBuilder survey involved a job seeker hugging the interviewer. Be sure you act professionally at all times, and do not hound potential employers.

2) Do Your Research

Before you step foot into the office, you need to do your homework. What is the company all about? What challenges does the company face? How do they stack up against their competitors? What is the company culture like? These are all questions you should spend time researching. Their career page and social media channels can provide some answers, but cast the net wider to look at news articles and maybe even contact current or former employees for insights. By thoroughly researching the company, you’ll be able to give the interviewer a concrete idea of how your particular skills and abilities can impact the organization.

In fact, 34 percent of interviewers cite lack of specific examples as the reason they passed on a candidate. By doing your homework and researching the company, you will be in a better position to get specific about the value you can bring to the organization.

3) Hit Silent

There’s nothing worse during an interview than the chirp of a text message, the ring of a phone, or the persistent buzzing of your electronic device on vibrate. Forgetting to switch off your phone is a simple mistake that can cost you dearly.

A survey of recruiters and hiring managers showed 91 percent would disqualify a candidate with a talkative mobile device. So before walking into your interview, turn your phone off or put it on silent. You can always take the call, answer the text, or scan your email after you’ve impressed your future employer.

4) Mind Your (Body) Language

In an interview, what you say is extremely important. But it’s not just your words doing the talking. Body language is a huge part of how we judge and understand each other. In fact, a UCLA study found up to 93 percent of communication is provided by nonverbal cues – this means you need to watch your words and what your body language is telling a prospective employer.

Pay attention to your posture in the interview. Slouching can make you appear lazy and unmotivated, even if your words are saying the opposite. Make good eye contact in order to build a more personal connection with the interviewer. Practice a firm handshake with friends and family before walking through the office doors. Judging by a handshake might seem old school, but many employers still take this nonverbal cue into consideration.

And remember, sincere passion is the key to convincing employers you really want the job. If you’re motivated and have true passion for the opportunity, don’t be afraid to let it show!

5) Ask The Right Questions

If the interview is going well, it might be easy to get ahead of yourself in the process. In addition to using the interview to show employers what value you’ll bring to the company, you might start wondering what the company can do for you. While interviews are a two-way street and you should absolutely come into the meeting with questions prepared, it’s important to be careful what these questions contain.

Bad interview questions will be all about what the organization can do for you. For instance, 85 percent of recruiters think the interview isn’t the right place to ask salary questions. Talking money is something that happens further down the line in the hiring process, and if you jump the gun, you might never make it to the next step.

You also want to avoid asking questions about vacation time, according to 69 percent of recruiters. Asking about vacation before you’ve even gotten the job will make it appear as though you’re already looking forward to escaping the office. Instead, use your interview questions to show off what you know about the company and how well you would fit into the organization’s culture.

Having a successful interview is far from impossible. Your dream job is within your grasp if you avoid common pitfalls and focus on showing employers you’re the perfect candidate.

What are some ways you prevent a bad job interview? Let us know in the comments below! 

Author: Alan Carniol is the Founder of – an online job interview training system. Or, follow Alan and Interview Success Formula on Twitter.

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