10 Things You Did Wrong at Your Last Job Interview


There's a lot that can go wrong in a job interview.

If you think about what's actually happening, it's remarkable that anyone can go into a situation like that and avoid feeling incredibly nervous. You're being questioned, assessed, and judged, all while having to make conversation and present yourself in a way that's going to make those judging you want to pay you a lot of money to work for them. (See also: How to Make a Good Impression at an Interview)

That's tough sledding, even for those who would consider themselves to have nerves of steel. But if you're going in for a job interview, knowing ahead of time what could potentially go wrong on your end might save you from hurting your own chances.

If at the end of the interview you have no regrets and the ball is totally in a hiring manager's court, that's all you can ask for.

To help avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, here are 10 things that happened in your last interview that you did wrong (and how you can do better next time). (See also: Weird Interview Questions and How to Answer Them)

1. Spoke Negatively About Your Last Job or Supervisor

Sometimes it can be tempting to talk down your last job in response to questions like, "Why are you looking to change jobs?" or "What makes you think you'd be a good fit here?"

Speaking negatively is a poor response because, first and foremost, it doesn't answer the question in full. Furthermore, the people interviewing you are going to be your next boss, and if they detect that you were insubordinate at your last job, they've no reason to believe that you won't treat them the same way.

Demonstrate that you are a team player. Find something positive about your former (or current) employers, and keep your review honest.

2. Overhyped Your Abilities or Credentials

Interviewers can almost always tell when somebody is exaggerating what's on their resume. Often you'll end up talking about something that you don't have a lot of knowledge about, and you'll say things that are simply incorrect, which hiring managers will quickly pick up on.

While you should be confident in your abilities (more on that next), you shouldn't try to oversell your potential, especially since it's so easy to spot.

3. Weren't Confident in Your Own Abilities

You might be well-qualified, but if you go into an interview without having confidence in yourself and some assertiveness about what's on your resume and what you can bring to the table to benefit them, interviewers will pick up on that right away. Make sure that you're confident in your skill set. (See also: Break These Habits to Become More Confident)

4. Forgot That Companies Hire for a Reason

It can be easy to forget that jobs aren't just a sort of entity out there that you have to be lucky enough to land so you can have a steady paycheck.

Jobs and paychecks exist only for one reason: because companies and business owners need help to keep turning a profit. The only way you get one of those jobs is if you can help that person make money and make it easier for them to do their job.

You have to present as that person and have that mindset as the foundation for a great interview.

5. Presented Yourself Poorly

One intensely practical aspect of interviewing is that those who look neat and well put together are going to have a better shot at getting hired than those who don't. It's not a bad idea to put up the money for a new outfit and make sure that you cover all the details, right down to your belt and shoes.

6. Talked Too Much

You should be confident in your abilities, but that doesn't mean you should be overly talkative or constantly having something to say about yourself.

In an interview setting it pays to listen well and to only talk about things that are crucial and pertinent to the job at hand. Let whoever is interviewing you set the tone when it comes to opening up and talking about other things. If they're relaxed about it, you can follow suit.

7. Didn't Research the Company

There are a lot of people who apply for jobs without so much as reading the description, much less studying up on the company. The more you know about the company, the more you'll be able to articulate how you can help them and how your skills would benefit their mission statement. (See also: Things You Should Know About the Company Before an Interview)

It'll also automatically put you a cut above the people who didn't do their homework.

8. Didn't Ask Enough Questions

When most of us think about an interview, we think about someone questioning us. While that's an important part of the process, you'll likely be given the opportunity to ask your interviewer some questions as well. If you don't have anything to ask, you run the risk of looking like someone who "just wants a job" and doesn't really care about their career. (See also: Questions You Must Ask at an Interview)

Ask questions about the company, the position, and whatever general information you'd like to know, with the exception of one particular topic...

9. Inquired About Salary Too Early

Unless someone offers up information about salary, don't bring it up yourself. In fact, it would benefit you to steer away from the topic in all scenarios until you've gotten a job offer. At that point, you're the one in control, and you can go into a negotiating phase where the topic has a lot more relevance.

10. Failed to Follow Up

It can certainly be discouraging when you have a great interview and don't hear anything for a few weeks. Even waiting a few days can be tough, but if you feel like an interview went well and you don't hear anything back, follow up with whoever you spoke with. Some companies like to see that initiative, while with others it falls on deaf ears. You won't know until you try.

Start with a phone call first, then if you don't hear anything for another week, send an email.

Avoiding the Self-Inflicted Injuries

If you cover these points, you'll at least have the confidence of knowing that you're avoiding the interview casualties that are typically self-inflicted.

The hiring world is a complex science, without guarantees or formulas. You just have to know the basics, then get out there, and take your chances. If you do that, you're at least giving yourself a chance, and it's only a matter of time until you can find someone else who's willing to do the same.

Have you ever messed up a job interview? What'd you do? Please share in comments!

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