The Biggest Interview Mistakes of 2013

A look back at some interview blunders to leave behind in 2013.

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As we look back at 2013, we often realize there were a few things we could have done better. If you were looking for a job this year and went to an interview or two, you might have made a few mistakes like the ones below.

May these be cautionary tales that you avoid the next time you're interviewed for a job.

Getting too comfortable with your interviewer. It's one thing to be open with a potential employer, but don't toe the line into TMI. Jessi Molohon, a job seeker, says that she was too enthusiastic about sharing when an interviewer asked her about her weekend. Thinking she and the woman had really hit it off, Molohon opened up a little too much."Before I knew it, we were discussing ex-boyfriends and personal problems," she says. "What started out as a great personal connection became an unfortunate sob story."

Molohon now wishes she'd kept her private life, well, private, and she advises job seekers to do the same: "Your interviewer wants to know about your education, past experiences and extracurriculars. However, they don't need to know about aspects of your personal life."

Showing your ignorance. Sure, you've gone on a dozen interviews in the past week, but that's no reason to not dive into each company that interests you. Too many hiring managers have seen candidates who have no clue what the company does. Do you think that impresses them?

Spending a few minutes on the company's website can help give you at least an overview of what a company specializes in and some of the recent news. If you don't quite understand the details, that's your opportunity to ask questions that show you've done some research.

Underdressing. It seems simple enough: Dress for the job you want to get. But Matthew Walden, vice president at Infinity Consulting Solutions, says many interviewees don't pay enough attention to the impression they make. "Surprisingly, candidates for professional jobs sometimes forget details that undermine their appearance – common mistakes here included showing up at an interview underdressed or wearing something inappropriate (like a baseball cap) or wearing Bluetooth earpiece for the interview. One candidate didn't come dressed in a full suit – only a dress shirt and tie – and because he couldn't be introduced to the president, he wasn't hired," he says.

Undervaluing yourself. If you're offered the job, make sure you don't sell yourself short. Salary negotiation is a tricky game, as neither party wants to tip his or her hand. But realize this: An employer isn't going to revoke an offer if your salary requirements are more than they can pay. They'll simply negotiate. But quote yourself too low and you devalue yourself, and you might even become less appealing to the employer.

The same goes for consulting and freelancing. Debra Benton, a business consultant, says she made the mistake of undervaluing her services. "My biggest interviewing mistake was for a consulting job where I underpriced my fee. I found out I was the person of choice until I quoted a fee. I didn't request a high enough fee so they changed their mind on my value. I've since learned the more they pay the better they think you are. As a woman I had to learn to ask for more money, which men seem to be more comfortable doing."

Showing up late. Here's another classic interview no-no. Showing up late puts questions into the hiring manager's mind. After all, if you can't be bothered to show up for an interview on time, will you be late for work regularly?

Moholon shares about the time she broke cardinal interview rule No. 1: "Due to my own negligence, I showed up 20 minutes late. I was mortified. To make matters worse, the interview was with a major league baseball team."

Moholon also says it was her own fault; she didn't properly prepare and should have read all the paperwork and emails that were sent to her. She advises job seekers to do their homework: "An interview should be treated like a test," she says. "Make sure that you review things like times, location and surrounding traffic. First impressions are important and people want to hire those they know are going to be on time."

Acting inappropriately. If there's any doubt in your mind whether something is inappropriate in an interview, assume it is and don't do it. Walden says that even when a candidate makes it to the final round of interviews, he can still make mistakes. "After four hours of interviewing, the manager suggested the candidate eat lunch in his office. The candidate was very appreciative and sat in his office while the manager ran an errand. However, while the candidate was alone in the office, he decided to use the manager's computer to check his Facebook account. At first the candidate thought he got away with it, but made the mistake of forgetting to sign out of his account. This careless act left the manager very disappointed and the candidate jobless."

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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careers
interviews

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