An interview is one of the hardest things to obtain as a job seeker -- and unfortunately, it's also one of the easiest ways you can lose the job opportunity.
Interview mishaps happen to everyone, but the key to avoiding them is to relax and be yourself, says Laura Rose, a life and business coach and owner of Rose Coaching.
"The interview is as much about getting to know the company and work environment as it is about them interviewing you. This strategy relaxes the entire interview," she says. "You can essentially direct the interview to the areas you are most comfortable talking about. Listening to the interviewer answer the questions, you can clue in on his terminology, terms and what he feels is important. Then you can highlight those same terms and skill set in your comments back to him."
Being well-prepared for the meeting can also help you impress a potential employer.
"It's difficult to overstress how important it is to do some research on a company you're interviewing with. Have a list of good questions to ask the person interviewing you. You want to seem like you are asking questions that require thought rather than questions seeking information that may be available on the website," says Debra Yergen, author of "Creating Job Security Resource Guide."
"Start with questions about the importance the organization places on industry hot buttons and what the hiring manager sees as differences between their company and their competitors. Another great question might be something like, 'Are there any employee groups here that work together to plan team-building activities or extracurricular events that bring co-workers together either to boost morale or support the community?' These kinds of questions send a potential employer a message that you're looking for more than a job," she says.
While asking the right kinds of question is vital, you must also be prepared to answer the tough questions, says Henry Motyka, business solutions manager at Norwood Consulting.
"Of particular importance are behavioral interview questions like, 'Tell me about a situation when ... ' It is best to define those situations beforehand and memorize them," he says.
Doing your research, asking the right questions and answering tough questions are ways to avoid making an interview mistake. But, unfortunately, there are many ways to derail an interview. Here are five gaffes to steer clear of in your interview:
1. Inappropriate attire
"If you are not professionally attired, you won't get the job, even if you are the most qualified," says image consultant Sandy Dumont. "Always dress better than required for an interview. Never dress down, because it is insulting to the other person. It says, 'I don't have to impress you; I dress for my own comfort.' When you dress to impress, they get it, and you will stand out from all the other candidates."
2. Trying to lead the interview
"Many of my clients have children. [They have a] tendency to talk over their interviewers. That's how they manage to be heard at home and that's what they often do in their interviews," says Rory Cohen, a career counselor. "When you don't listen, you don't get invited back for a second interview. Interviewers, in general, want and expect to be in the driver's seat."
3. Showing up too late or too early
"If you're more than 15 minutes early to your interview, go to the restroom and freshen up, then casually walk in about 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment," says Marie Applegate Prasad, founder of WiSo Résumés.
4. Bringing your own food or drink
"Do not bring any food or drinks into the office of the interviewer. Many find eating or drinking a big distraction and some people are sensitive to smells," Prasad says. "It's best to just wait until after the interview is over."
5. Forgetting important information
"On a sheet of paper write down the following information: company, address, phone number, hiring manager, person who scheduled the interview, position you are interviewing for and job duties," Prasad says. "Study this and bring with you the day of your interview."
Rachel Farrell researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.
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