There's no way your upcoming interview can possibly go wrong. You've planned ahead and given yourself every advantage, and you're pretty sure you haven't missed a detail.
You've been using practice interview questions, rehearsing with your friends, dry cleaning your suit, and reaching out to your mentors for advice. Tonight you plan to get a full eight hours of sleep and eat a breakfast packed with berries and whole grains. You're absolutely ready to crush this thing.
But, wait. Watch out for these four sneaky mistakes that can trip up even the most confident applicant.
1. Too Much of Anything
When you head into the office and shake your interviewer's hand, relax. High stress situations sometimes rob us of our volume control. What we may see as animated speech can come off as rushed. A handshake we consider firm might actually be a death grip. And eye contact we consider direct can be weirdly unwavering. Let your gaze move periodically to your interviewer's hands, then back to her face. Rein in your nervous laughter. And don't allow your own hands to clutch at or fiddle with anything; just keep them relaxed at your sides.
2. Showing No Interest in Your Interviewer
Sometimes an interview can feel like an audition or a tryout in which we're alone on stage expected to perform to a distant audience. But this isn't the case. An interview is a conversation. And a good conversation goes two ways. You may not be the one asking the questions, but stay open and tuned in to your interviewer's intentions, expressions, and nuances. Recognize when she's ready to change the subject.
3. Being a Yes Man
If your interviewer describes one of the most challenging or unpleasant aspects of the job, and asks how you might handle this challenge on a daily basis, think before you answer. Don't just blurt out the most positive, agreeable thing that comes to mind. If she asks about your commute or describes the workplace culture in loaded terms (as in “this is a very competitive, fast-paced place”) and waits for your reaction, she's not trying to trap you. She's only trying to determine how happy you're likely to be here. Don't just reflexively shout positive nonsense. Be sincere and honest.
4. Having No Questions of Your Own
At the end of a standard interview, most employers will turn the tables and give the applicant an opportunity to ask some questions of her own. And candidates typically respond by saying nothing. Don't do this. Be ready for this moment and have several questions prepared beforehand. Make sure your questions are intelligent, meaningful and relevant. And make sure you have plenty of them, since you don't want to ask about something the interviewer just spent ten minutes explaining. Ask how she likes working for the company, for example. Ask about the culture of the office, the software system the company uses to process orders, the opportunities for advancement available here or the next steps you might take to improve your chances.