In almost everyone's life there comes a point where you have to undertake your first job interview. Being interviewed can still be daunting for people who've gone through the process on numerous occasions, but your first time can be particularly nerve wracking as you are essentially stepping into the unknown.
There's plenty of things you can do to prepare for an interview, but it's also worthwhile to be aware of some common pitfalls that could easily ruin your chances of landing that first job. Even if you're an interview veteran, it's important to make sure you haven't got any bad habits you might be unaware of.
It will be very hard to have a successful job interview if you don't get the basics right. A lot of this is pure common sense, but you'd be surprised how many people still trip up by making silly mistakes.
Arriving late for an interview is always a problem and should be avoided at all costs. If you are going to be delayed due to circumstances beyond your control, phoning ahead and letting the company know is the best way to avoid this damaging your chances.
Another basic is to get your appearance right. A messy or inappropriate outfit creates an instant bad impression that can be hard to overcome. Greeting the interviewer is also important; smile, look happy to be there and offer a firm but not too forceful handshake to get things off to a good start.
Preparation is key for interview success and it's likely you'll have planned plenty of things you want to say. However, it's also important to pay attention to the interviewer and the direction they are taking the interview in. If you ignore their prompts and carry on with your own agenda the interview won't go too well. Try to get through everything you'd planned, but only if it's relevant to what the interviewer is saying.
Be ready to back-up your application
When applying for jobs, it can be tempting to embellish your CV or cover letter by taking a few liberties with the truth. However, you should be aware that anything you mention in your application could be brought up in your interview and you'll need to be able to convincingly discuss any claims you've made. There are few worse interview experiences than the interviewer exposing lies on your CV.
Bad body language
An interview is about more than just saying the right things. You also have to send the right messages with your body. After all, it has been claimed that body language can account for as much as 55 per cent of all communication and in a situation like a job interview it can have a big impact.
There are a number of bad body language habits you should avoid. Make sure you don't slouch and definitely don't fidget. Biting your nails and excessively touching your hair or face are also turn offs as far as an interview is concerned. You should try your best to maintain eye contact and smile as much as you can.
Badmouthing an old boss
Badmouthing an old boss or company is one of the worse things you can ever do in an interview. While, this might not apply if it is your first time, it's still a big faux pas that's worth being aware of. Even if you hated your former/current employer and are desperate to leave, there's no need to let the interviewer know. If they hear you slagging off an old boss, they'll wonder if you'd be saying the same things about them later down the line.
If you want to talk about why you're looking to change employer, make it into a positive by focusing on the plus points of the role you're interviewing for rather than the negatives of the one you're hoping to leave behind.
Don't let nerves get the better of you
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being nervous about a job interview. It's perfectly natural, especially if it's the first time you've experienced the process. However, it's important not to let your nerves get the better of you. Interviewers know most people get nervous and there's no need to mention it.
Stay positive, and remember the very worst that can happen is you don't get the job and can use the experienced gained in your next interview.