Ace Your Job Interview: 10 Tips to Avoid Costly Mistakes

10 Tips to Avoid Costly Mistakes

An applicant’s experience should be clearly outlined in the resume and backed up by references. Professional work samples contained in a portfolio are evidence of ability. An applicant’s personality, however, may not be as easy to evaluate except through a one-on-one interview.

The tips below will help you avoid making mistakes that could cost you your dream job.

1. Arrive a few minutes early for the job interview. Punctuality is not only a sign of disciplined behavior but of respect for the interviewer’s time. Few excuses are good enough to erase the bad first impression created by a late arrival.

2. Display a depth of knowledge and interest regarding the company. Unless the company is new to the market or the interview occurred at the spur of the moment, an applicant is expected to come into the interview with prior knowledge of the company and its products or services. The interview questions usually determine the extent of this knowledge and probe the applicant to see if there is genuine interest in the particular job at this particular company. Devoting the time and effort to prepare for your interview indicates that you will probably display the same attentiveness while on the job.

3. Make sure that your overall personal appearance suits the job. Although attractiveness should not matter for most jobs, cleanliness, neatness, and good grooming indicate an eye for detail and personal pride. Dirty fingernails and hair, frayed clothing, and sloppy work samples at a first interview are warning signs that the applicant is not a detail-oriented person. If the job requires interaction with the public, consider what your appearance will say about the company.

4. Don’t focus too much on the salary. You’re expected to be concerned about salary, but realize it’s only part of the career you’ve chosen.

5. Express enthusiasm for the job and the related industry. If a job doesn’t interest or excite you, don’t even bother applying. An interviewer will see right through you.

6. Be assertive, but humble. Coming across as conceited will discourage most employers. It’s desirable to be assertive and sometimes even aggressive (especially for sales jobs), but don’t be so full of yourself that you turn people off.

7. Don’t criticize past employers. As tempting as it is, you shouldn’t tell the interviewer about every rotten employer you’ve ever had. Even if you feel a good rapport has been established, it’s risky to confide too much. The interviewer will wonder what you will say about him behind his back.

8. Know what you hope to achieve with the job, both personally and professionally. You should be flexible and agreeable to a company’s standards but never compromise on the important issues (such as your ideals, life goals, or morals).

9. Answer questions as directly as possible. Interviewers can sense when you’re trying to hide something. Answer each question as accurately and directly as you can. Caution: Don’t give away excessive information about yourself, however. Everything you say can and will be used against you.

10. Thank the interviewer for his time. It’s a small thing to you, but a matter of large importance to the interviewer. When he indicates that your meeting is over, smile, shake hands, say thank you, and get out of there before you inadvertently do something to spoil the interview. Follow up with a brief thank you note, if appropriate.

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