7 ways job seekers sabotage their interviews before they walk in the door
Don’t tank the interview before it begins.
Once you’ve landed an interview, you’re well on your way to getting your dream job. You’ve crafted the perfect CV, submitted a solid job application and impressed enough to grab an HR manager’s attention ‒ now all you need to do is to show the interviewer your skills, your experience and, of course, your charm.
Easier said than done, but there’s more to it than that. In between landing the interview and showing up, it’s possible to get things wrong. In fact, there are a number of mistakes job applicants make before they ever arrive at the interview.
Find out more about these common errors below, so you don’t miss out before you even get started.
Most likely you won’t meet your interviewer until the day of the interview, but they’re already forming an opinion about you. No matter how professional you appear in person, you need to convey that professionalism in every communication with a potential employer, whether spoken or written.
When you’re speaking with them over the phone, conduct the conversation like you would in a job interview. When you send emails, make sure your spelling and punctuation are flawless, and keep your tone professional. Otherwise, you’ll appear unpolished and sloppy before you and your interviewer have had the chance to meet.
Poor social media presence
An interviewer’s job is to evaluate candidates, and they do this every step of the way ‒ not just from your spoken and written communication, but from your online presence as well.
It’s a cliché by now, but it’s still very true: The world is more connected than ever before. With just a quick internet search, your entire life can be at an interviewer’s fingertips ‒ and according to a YouGov poll, as many as one in five employers have turned down a candidate based on a social media screening.
In a way, your social media presence is just another form of communication about yourself. What you post online says a lot about you, and as with any form of communication, there are some common mistakes to avoid.
Controversial political posts
No matter how important an issue or how close it is to your heart, there’s a time and a place for everything. Controversy can cause divisions, strain relationships and make people feel uncomfortable ‒ the opposite of what a potential employer wants in a workplace.
You want your social media presence to show that you are someone who can work well with others and fit in well with a team, so it’s best to keep these controversial conversations private. If you must, make sure you understand your privacy settings and have them set appropriately ‒ or perhaps consider going anonymous so as to not taint your candidacy.
Sharing photos of wild parties and irresponsible behaviour
Interviewers will want to know how reliable and responsible you are, so before you share a pic of how hard you partied on Friday, think: Would you show this image in a job interview? Would you put this photo on your desk at work?
Of course, the answer is ‘no’. If you wouldn’t want an employer, or a potential employer, to see it, don’t show the world by putting it online.
Complaining about a past or current job
The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is that you’re a difficult employee who causes problems, and if they see a rant about your former (or current!) employer then that’s exactly what they’ll think. Trashing your workplace online is a surefire way to turn off any interviewer ‒ and besides, it’s just not a good look.
Inappropriate profile pictures
Communicating a professional image isn’t just about what you say and how you say it, but also in how you present yourself. Whether it’s your Gmail account or a social media profile, your profile picture says a lot about you.
‘Appropriate’ is the name of the game ‒ choose a well-lit image of yourself, dressed professionally. After all, this is the face you’re showing whenever you send an email or when a potential employer conducts searches for you online.
Asking the wrong questions
Before you reach out to ask for something, check to see if the answer has already been provided in emails, documents or on their company website. Answering your questions takes up your interviewer’s time, and if it’s something you should already know, it won’t reflect well on you.
This means keeping track of your job applications, too ‒ you need to be aware of what you’ve applied for. If a potential employer calls to arrange an interview and you can’t remember who they are or what position they’re calling about, you will seem disengaged and uninterested.
This isn’t to say don’t ask questions — asking questions can be a great way to show that you’ve thought about the position and that you’re keen to know more about the job. Just make sure that is what’s motivating your questions, not laziness or a lack of preparation.
Rescheduling too often
Rescheduling an interview is sometimes necessary, and while understandable, it can cause difficulties and inconvenience for an interviewer. Rescheduling too many times can make you seem unreliable, uncommitted and unprofessional.
Make time for your interviewer, because they’ve made time for you. The more consideration and preparation you show, the more impressed your interviewer will be.
Getting to know someone in person is very different than just speaking over the phone or through email, and the gap between getting an interview and attending the interview can be a sensitive time. From the moment a potential employer first receives your job application to when they make their final decision, they are investigating, assessing and making decisions about candidates. If you keep that in mind, you can make sure you communicate and present yourself professionally and show yourself in the best light before you head into the interview.