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Career Development Stephanie Hoppe

Steer Clear of these 5 Common Interview Mistakes

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a recent graduate, the key to a successful interview lies not just in what you do right, but also in avoiding the common pitfalls that can make all the difference.

Embarking on the journey toward a fulfilling career is exciting, and filled with opportunities and possibilities. As you work toward this path, one crucial step stands out - the interview process. Interviews serve as a pathway to your next dream position, but they also present potential challenges that, if overlooked, can stop your progress in its tracks.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a recent graduate, the key to a successful interview lies not just in what you do right, but also in avoiding the common pitfalls that can make all the difference. Understanding and overcoming common interview missteps is an important skill that could save you plenty of sleepless nights and maybe even secure that dream job.

Let's explore five interview missteps that, when avoided, can clear a path to finding the new position or career that’s right for you.  

Ignoring Non-Verbal Signals

It's not only what you say but also how you say it. Make sure to pay attention to your body language, tone, and facial expressions. Fidgeting, a lack of eye contact, or over-rehearsed responses may not create the best first impression. Try answering common questions in front of a mirror or recording yourself and playing it back – both with the sound on and with the sound off. You’ll become more aware of how you look when answering and can begin addressing that before coming face to face with a future employer.

Neglecting Company Culture

Many candidates often focus on showcasing their skills and experiences but forget to emphasize their alignment with the company and its culture. Employers value applicants who have the right qualifications and share the company's values and work ethic. Take the time to do your due diligence and research the company ahead of time. Visit their website and social media pages to get a better sense of who they are and how they project their brand to the public.

Preparing Quality Questions

Candidates should be prepared with questions to ask the employer during an interview, but they must be thoughtful ones. Avoid generic questions that could be answered through research of the company. Instead, ask questions that show genuine interest and help you determine if the company will be a good fit with you. Yes, they are interviewing you, but the interview is a two-way street and you should ask insightful questions to ensure it will be a mutual match if they offer you the position. Some possible questions could include:

  • What are the core values that drive decision-making within the company?
  • How would you describe the dynamics of the team I'll be working with?
  • What opportunities are available for professional development and advancement within the company?
  • Can you describe a typical day or week in this position?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges facing the team or department right now?
  • How does the company promote work-life balance for its employees?
  • How often are performance reviews conducted, and what is the feedback process like?
  • Can you provide examples of constructive feedback being given to employees?
  • What would success look like for someone in this role one year from now?
  • What advice would you give to someone starting in this role?

Adapting to Remote Interviews

Coming out of a pandemic and the rise of remote work, first interviews may take place virtually. It is important to adapt to this format by creating a professional virtual space (choose a virtual background or tidy area for the interview), testing equipment in advance, choosing a place with minimal distractions and remembering to give adequate eye contact through the camera. Being unprepared for remote interviews can significantly impact your performance and determine if you get offered the position or if they go with another candidate.

Lacking Honest Self-Awareness

People may struggle to accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses. Being overly self-critical or extra confident may have you standing out for the wrong reasons. Demonstrating genuine self-awareness is important for building trust and showing off your best, true self.  

Acing an interview is about more than just ticking off qualifications. It's about being genuine, showing interest in the company, and adapting to the ever-changing interviewing process.

By tackling these common missteps—ignoring non-verbal cues, not fitting into company culture, not asking meaningful questions, failing to adapt to remote interviews and lacking honest self-awareness—you can set yourself apart from other candidates. Herzing University’s Career Development team is also available to help prepare you, boost your confidence, and ensure you walk into future interviews ready to earn your next role.

Best of luck on your interview journey!

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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