You know how it goes. You send your resume online, wait a few days, and get the call that they want to interview you. You head over to the nearest The Limited, and buy yourself a new blouse and a pantsuit, and some pantyhose, even though you're not really sure women wear those anymore (do we? we really should decide). The morning of, you feel ready. A little nervous, but after a pep talk with yourself in the mirror, you grab a giant skinny latte and head to your interview. "Girl you got this, breathe."
I've been there many times in my early twenties, and sometimes the interview went well, and others not so much. I had no idea what I was doing, and to save you some embarrassment, I want to tell you some mistakes I have made that might help you in your journey to find the perfect job.
"Sure, I have worked with quotas before. How? Oh... I don't remember." - Don't embellish. It's better to say no than to try to impress them without actually having the experience they are looking for. You will get caught in an embarrassing moment and will lose their trust.
"My only weaknesses are that I am a perfectionist, and I work too hard." - They know what you're doing here -- you will not fool them by trying to make your weakness sound like a strength. This is another opportunity to be honest and tell them a true weakness, but follow up with how you deal with it, and how you compensate for it in your work.
"I am looking for a new job because I hate my current job, and they don't know what they're doing there."- Don't talk negatively about your current situation. Employers don't want to hear negative feelings during an interview. This is your only chance to make a great first impression, so don't accidentally suggest that you might bad-mouth them to another future employer.
"I don't have any questions for you" - This is a big mistake! Not only is this a chance for them to interview you, it's also a chance for you to interview them and see if the position, and the company, are the right fit for you. When you don't ask questions, you also come off desperate, like you'll agree to anything.
"How much does this position pay, and do I get vacation?" - It's understandable that you want to know your potential salary, but wait until you get offered the position, and let them be the ones to bring it up.
"Your shoes are so cute!" - As cute as her shoes may be, you don't want to come off unprofessional and like you're trying to befriend your interviewer. Keep any comments that may come off as "sucking up" to yourself.
"I don't know much about your company, can you tell me more about it?" - Companies like to feel like you are on a first date -- they want to know that you are interested! By not doing my research, I blew my chances at getting the position.
"I'm so sorry I'm late, traffic was crazy!" - Interviewers don't care if your car exploded on the way to the interview. Being late to the interview suggests that you would also be late for work, and that you don't value other people's time. Avoid this at all costs!
I hope these points have helped you prepare and put a little more effort into your next interview! Don't forget to present yourself professionally, take into consideration the company's culture, and when in doubt, it's best to overdress. Good luck!
(This post was first published on Society Letters.)