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5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

written by: AlexisW•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 10/27/2009

The interview is one of most important steps in the job application process. Good interview skills can make the difference between a job offer and another day on the unemployment line. Here are 5 interview mistakes to avoid.

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    The Importance of the Interview

    Most companies use an interview to assess a potential employee in a one-on-one environment so determine if they are the right fit for a particular position. From an employee perspective, the interview is the time to use to sell yourself to the company and make them see why you are the right fit for the position. To do so, there are certain mistakes you want to avoid making on your next interview so you have better chances of obtaining the position you desire.

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    A Bad Handshake

    While a handshake is an acceptable way to greet your interviewer, there are certain aspects of the action that you want to avoid in order to make an acceptable first impression. First, you want to make sure your handshake is not too weak. A weak handshake tells the interviewer that you are nervous and shows a lack of confidence. However, you also want to avoid giving an aggressive handshake. Aggressive handshakes may cause the interviewer to put up defenses and question your lack of sincerity during the interview. Practice your handshake on friends and family until you have perfected it.

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    Extreme Eye Contact

    Eye contact with your interviewer is always an important part of the interview process. However, mistakes can be made in this area too that can cost you the job. Like handshakes, you want to avoid extreme opposite ends of the spectrum. For instance, you do not want to avoid eye contact because this suggests to the interviewer that you lack confidence in yourself. However, you want to avoid overusing eye contact because, again, this will make you seem fake and insincere. Again, practice speaking with friends and family concentrating on the amount of eye contact to ensure you use this tool correctly on your next interview.

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    Negativity

    Odds are that at some point during the interview process you will be asked why you are leaving your present job or why you left your past job. Even if you left on negative terms due to the way management operated the company, avoid making unpleasant remarks about your opinion of management or co-workers. Always keep the conversation positive and moving towards the objective of how you will be able to help the company you are interviewing for, in the position you are being considered for.

    Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the way you believe your previous job has prepared you for this current position. When you get into the interview, always keep the age old age of 'if you cannot say something nice...' in the back of your mind and think before you speak. Odds are if you speak badly about a previous employer you will not be hired because the interviewer will believe when you leave them you will speak negatively of them also.

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    Slang Speech

    Using the words “like” or “umm” as pauses in every day speech may be socially acceptable. However, during an interview, these hesitations can be a complete turn off to the interviewer and potentially keep you from being seriously considered for a job. Remember that you are in a professional setting and professional speech is expected. If you must pause to think of what you are going to say, then do so silently. Do not fill the empty gaps in speech with such unprofessional, everyday language.

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    Over-Eagerness

    Show the interviewer that you are excited about obtaining the position, but avoid seeming like you are over-eager. Avoid talking about you and how the business can benefit you. Always keep the conversation during the interview about how you can benefit the company in some way. Additionally, avoid asking questions about salary, vacation, benefits, and other personal job elements because, again, this would be about you. This shows the interview that you are cocky and already believe you have the position. If research beforehand did not reveal the answers to these questions, then you will find out once you are offered the job, if the interviewer decides you are the right fit for the position.