8 Common Interview Mistakes That Cost You The Job

You’ve got all the necessary skills and expertise, and your potential future employer wants to meet you. Now, just one thing is standing between you and that great job you want: acing the interview. Related: How To ‘Fake’ Your Way Through A Last Minute Interview You may be perfect for the job, but one slip of the tongue or poorly thought-out response can destroy your chances, overshadowing all of your talents and putting another candidate behind that desk. These common interview mistakes are very common—human resources managers see them all the time—but that doesn’t mitigate their damaging effects. Be better prepared for your next interview by avoiding these pratfalls.


1. You Neglect Your Cover Letter

There is nothing more important than your cover letter—not even your resume. It’s your chance to show your understanding of the business and state clearly what you have to offer the company. Think of it as a sales pitch. It should engage the reader from the first word, avoid vague language and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. While it’s also important to have a clean and well-stocked resume, a cover letter that knocks it out of the park can often make up for some misalignments.

2. You Try Too Hard

Yes, you should display confidence, but it’s important to remember that there’s a fine line between confidence and ego—and it’s one that you need to avoid crossing in an interview. Don’t make promises on which you can’t deliver, and don’t lie about your degree of proficiency is different areas. Most employers have good radar for this, so it’s unlikely that your claims that you singlehandedly saved your last employer from bankruptcy will fly with him or her. Even worse, you may be seen as a “fake it until you make it” sort, which no employer wants to put on payroll.

3. You Keep Going, And Going…

Talking over the interviewer is one of the most common interview mistakes candidates make, largely because it's a nervous habit many people share. If you catch yourself doing this, don’t persist. Stop, let the other person finish speaking, and then try again. It even gives you a few extra moments to refine what you are going to say. Don’t ramble.

4. You Badmouth Your Previous Employer

This is one of the biggest no-nos in interviewing. No matter how you feel about your last job, check that negativity at the door and come in armed with a more appropriate answer to the question, “Why did you leave your last job?” The interviewer will be listening carefully to the answer. Don’t let complaining or negativity be what he or she remembers.

5. You Flunk The Salary Negotiation

There are two big ways you can torpedo salary talks, either locking yourself out of a job or into a lower salary than you could have had. Mentioning money early on in an interview is a common mistake that can cause doors to close. While employers understand that money is a major factor for applicants, they have to have a clear understanding of what you bring to the table before it’s a consideration for them. You need to sell yourself before you can set a price. Almost as bad is the knee-jerk low-ball. Try instead to answer with open-ended questions about range that can help you provide a number that works for everyone.

6. You Lack Enthusiasm About the Job

The candidate who gets the job is the one that does his or her research and can speak with specifics about why the position is a good match. You don’t want to appear overambitious, but you should demonstrate a strong desire to do good work for a potential employer. You need to be able to tell the interview why you want the job, so know the answer before you walk in the door.

7. You Don't Explain Triumphs

Show, don’t tell. Rather than just saying you possess a particular skill, tell the interviewer a story about how you used a skill to accomplish something for a prior employer. Have these stories ready; they should expand on the examples you included in your resume. Remember that results-based answers speak to a potential employer’s bottom line, and interviewers listen for that.

8. You’re Desperate—And It Shows

Over-eagerness can backfire in an interview, and it’s often paired with anxious rambling that bores and annoys interviewers. Employers can tell if you’ve been out of work so long that you’ll say anything to get hired, and they’ll wonder why no one else wanted to give you a job. Keeping these things in mind can help your skills and experience shine. A little bit of preparation and avoiding these common interview mistakes can get you ahead of the competition and land you the job of your dreams. This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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