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Common interview mistakes and how to fix them

You have researched the company, rehearsed your pitch, picked out your best outfit, and printed copies of your CV and portfolio. Everything is in place for you to be on top of your important interview - but once you are in the hot seat, the worst-case scenario becomes a reality...

Whether you've stumbled upon a difficult question, shared too much (or too little) information, or strayed too far from your professional personality, you're sure you've lost any chance of landing your dream job due to common mistakes that are made during interviews.

In many cases, there is a possibility that you can still save your chance at securing a job by knowing for to fix your mistakes. Some of these quick fixes can be made in the middle of the interview, while others can be applied after.

Mistake # 1: Blanking out

We've all been there - that well-prepared response you so confidently thought of before the interview disappears just when you are expected to answer. However, if you find yourself facing one of these "brain freezes," all is not lost. Try this strategy to jump-start your thoughts and words.

  • Ask the interviewer to clarify the question. This will give you time to regroup.

  • Ask for time to think. It's okay to ask for a few seconds to consider the question and formulate an answer. A good employer will respect that you take the interview seriously and think before you speak.

  • Say something. Giving a partial answer is better than nothing. And if you're still clearing it up, be honest and ask if you can come back to the question later.

Mistake # 2: Speaking negatively about a former employer

While you have every right to be upset about a former boss's nightmare, a job interview is not the place to voice these complaints. Such criticisms will send red flags through your new potential employer's mind, causing them to wonder if you could be responsible for the negativity. So, leave the venting out the door unless there is a unique situation that needs to be explained. If you need to explain a bad situation (layoff, firing a boss, budget cuts, etc.), prepare a neutral explanation ahead of time to avoid getting caught off guard. If you utter a few not-so-nice words, take steps back and try to put a positive spin on the experience ("I can't wait to face new challenges and use what I've learned to add value to this post", Etc.).

Mistake #3: Offer a cliche answer

If you use a cliche during an interview, you will probably only realize it when the words are out of your mouth. For example, terms like "team player" and "people’s person" are used so frequently that they have lost all meaning. If you're comfortable doing this, try making a light joke ("I bet you've never heard that before"), then come up with a more creative and personalized response.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to put your phone on silent

Silencing your cell phone should be as much of a priority as it is to arrive on time and thank the interviewer, but you have forgotten to do so.

If this happens to you, act quickly to silence the ringer, and whatever you do, don't answer. Instead, immediately apologize for the interruption and pick up where you left off while reassuring the interviewer that it will never happen again.

Mistake #5: Not having a solid closing

In most interviews, the candidate is allowed to make a 'closing statement'. This is an invaluable opportunity to have the final say and leave the interviewer with a positive impression of you. At the end of the conversation, reaffirm your keen interest in the position, explain why you think you are a perfect fit, and ask questions about the next steps in the hiring process. Make sure to ask for the interviewer's business card or contact details so you can follow up the interview with a thank-you email.

The most effective way to prevent these potential interview mistakes is to anticipate them in advance and arm yourself with practical solutions to correct them, either mid-conversation or after the interview.


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