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5 Common Interview Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Job Search

5 Common Interview Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Job Search

You see a job posting and automatically you know it would be the perfect job for you. Your qualifications match, it would present you with career growth opportunities, and you know you’d bring great value to the company. In short, it’s your dream job.

You get the call for your interview, whether it’s in person or through online video, and you feel ready. Before you head out the door or fire up your webcam, however, know there are plenty of little pitfalls which can come between you and your dream job. With 7.9 percent unemployment, even a tiny mistake can be the opening another qualified candidate needs to leapfrog over you and get the job.

So what are the common mistakes you need to avoid to ace your interview? Here are five questions your interviewer should never ask themselves at any point during your meeting:

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What Are You Wearing?

It might be spring, but that doesn’t mean you should show up for your interview with a pastel-hued wardrobe. When the calendar flips to summer, the heat will be no excuse for donning a pair of shorts on such a formal occasion. You know the saying, “the clothes make the man”? Well in the interview, wearing the wrong thing can mean immediate disqualification before you even open your mouth.

Studies have revealed that first impressions are formed a mere 7 to 17 seconds after meeting. In 7 seconds, all your interviewer will have to go by will be your interview attire. This is why it’s imperative to dress conservatively and professionally—this is no time for a fashion show! Even if the office environment is more a T-shirt than suit jacket kind of place, the interview is no time to be taking fashion risks.

Why Are You Late?

Just like wearing a pair of flip-flops and board shorts, showing up late for your interview can be grounds for immediate dismissal. Your interviewer is taking time out of his or her busy schedule to squeeze you in. Be cognizant of this fact, and leave your house or office with plenty of time to spare.

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You might not think you need the extra time, but there are plenty of obstacles life can throw at you. You could get lost going to an unfamiliar neighborhood, or get stuck in a traffic pile up. Remember, it’s better to be early than late when it comes to your interview.

If you’re far away and think it might be hard to get to your interview on time, perhaps you should suggest a video interview. This way you can fire up your webcam from the comfort of your own home. Just remember, there’s no excuse on earth for being late to your video interview. Make sure to check out your equipment in advance so you don’t run into any technical difficulties.

You Really Don’t Know Anything About the Company?

One of the most common interview mistakes, and one of the most easily remedied, is showing up for the meeting without knowing anything about the company. “So what does this company do?” is never an acceptable question to ask your interviewer.

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Before showing up for your meeting, take some time to research the company. Start with their corporate website and social media properties, then expand your reach to any news about the organization. Maybe you can even connect on social media with current or former employees to find out more about the company culture. Whatever you do, don’t go into the interview without doing your homework.

Is That Your Phone Ringing?

There is nothing so important it cannot wait until you get out of an interview, so be sure to turn off all sounds on your phone before going in for your meeting. This means turning your phone off vibrate too. While a loud ring is distracting, the constant sound of your phone vibrating in your bag can be just as bad. You know you’re a popular person—there’s no need for your interviewer to know it as well.

What Did You Just Say About Your Former Employer?!

Perhaps your last job was terrible. Your boss resembled Michael Scott from NBC’s comedy The Office, and not in a good way. Your coworkers were meaner than Johnny Lawrence from the Karate Kid, and the office cafeteria food was just terrible.

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We’ve all been there, and we can all relate, but these stories of workplace woe belong at Happy Hour with your friends, not in an interview for a new position. You might think  that badmouthing your last office is a good tactic to explain why you were fired or why you want to make the switch to a new position. It is, however, a terrible idea.

Interviewers will think if you’re willing to badmouth a former employer, you’ll be willing to throw a new company under the bus as well. Go for discretion instead of full confession, and try to spin your former experiences in a positive way and make it about what you learned, not how much you hated your former job.

Interviews can be stressful, which can lead to little mistakes that add up to big trouble for your prospects. Focus on avoiding some of the most common errors, and you’ll be well on your way to nabbing the job of your dreams!

What are some common interview mistakes to avoid? Share in the comments!

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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