Nailing an interview can sometimes feel like experimenting with alchemy. There are a lot of guides on how to do it, but you're not quite sure if anything will actually work. While interviews are inherently subjective, there are still plenty of standard dos and don'ts that apply. Learning and understanding them will only help you. AOL recently listed five common interview mistakes that aren't usually considered by applicants. Don't assume you know all of them: research is your best and sometimes only tool in getting ahead during an interview.
1. Showing up late. This rule should be considered ironclad, no exceptions. Showing up late displays disregard for your employer's time and a severe inability to plan. If you've served in the military, you're well aware of what being on time can mean. While civilian employers won't usually ask you to show up hours ahead of time, 30 minutes is usually a good buffer. No one will pop out and make you do pushups or write an essay to punish you for arriving late, but your chances for success will drop faster than a stone. Promptness is one of the soft business skills that the military ingrained in you, now is the time to showcase that.
2. Wanting a job, any job. Some jobs you take because they're fulfilling, stimulating, and lucrative. Some you take because you need to pay rent and buy groceries. Wherever you fall along that line, never let on to the interviewer that you're applying just because you need a job. It's in the best interests of the employer to hire a passionate employee because they'll benefit from greater motivation and accountability. If someone's simply filling a slot, they might work towards the bare minimum and drag down productivity. You don't have to fake deep enthusiasm to overcome this. That usually comes through in the questions you ask, so prepare a list of them that show investment in the company, how they do business, and their place in the industry.
3. Lack of preparation. When you served, you could get in trouble for something as simple as chewing gum while in uniform or failing to wear headgear outdoors. So why would you put less than that amount of effort into an interview? Preparation is one of the biggest keys to success here. The internet makes it easy to research a great deal about the people interviewing you, the company, and the job itself. Can you answer these questions? What does the company do, how do they compare culturally and financially do industry competitors, what's the company's history, what are the requirements for the job, and how does your experience match those requirements? These are only a few examples of information that can help you in an interview. The goal isn't to be a walking, talking encyclopedia, but to be able to refer to any of that information when it's relevant to the discussion. It's better to have unused knowledge than a lack of it during a critical moment.
4. Not engaging with the interviewer. With all this preparation, you might feel like a coiled spring of facts and wisdom. Slow down, take a breath, and remember that you're talking to a person. They aren't a keyword search algorithm or a standard form, and they most likely aren't following a script. Remember that you are, first and foremost, having a conversation. It's nerve-wracking and highly formalized, sure, but if you pop off with tangential facts and stock responses at every opportunity, you won't impress anyone. Preparation is a foundation, not a set-in-stone strategy. Get a few friends to deliver practice interviews. Using different people will help you break out of bad habits since each individual will have different questions and responses.
5. Showing lapses in your professional veneer. The interview starts as soon as your butt's resting in a comfy office chair across from people dangling your future in front of you. Right? Wrong. The interview begins as soon as you receive notice that they want to interview you. You are being evaluated from that point until the moment they onboard you or say no thanks. This is especially true when you're in the office. Treat everyone you meet with respect and courtesy, and don't let your professional veneer slip for a moment. If you've been told to hang out for thirty minutes in the lobby while the interviewers prep, don't use that time to browse Facebook and text. Reading material placed in the lobby is usually okay, but generally try to remain prepared and relaxed.