We've all heard of (and maybe had) common dreams people have when they're under pressure professionally -- showing up naked to make a big presentation, or completely forgetting to show up for a job interview. Sometimes, reality is even scarier than our dreams, and these common job interview mishaps are too nerve-wracking to ignore.
Here are 10 scary job interview mistakes and how to make sure you don't make them and spook yourself out of a job.
1. Mysteriously forgetting the name(s) of whomever is interviewing you.
It's as though someone wiped your mind clean. You walk in, shake hands, smile, and promptly blank on your interviewer's name. When you schedule the interview, ask for the names of anyone who'll be interviewing you. Repeat them to remember them, and when you get to the interview and meet everyone, repeat their names back to them -- "It's nice to meet you, Bill" -- so you'll remember who is who.
2. Getting lost on the way to the company and arriving late.
There's no excuse for this one -- unless the company magically moved overnight. Look up directions to the interview ahead of time online, then, if possible, do a practice run to make sure you know where you're going.
3. Acting stiff as a mummy throughout the interview.
Loosen up! Acing the interview is just as much about how you look as what you say. Being stiff, nervous, and twitchy leaves a bad impression. Take a few deep breaths, remember to smile, and tell yourself to loosen up throughout the interview.
4. Completely blanking when asked a tough question.
Questions like, "What is your biggest weakness?", "Why are you looking for a job?", What are your salary requirements?" and "Where do you see yourself in five years?" are truly difficult to answer. But if you practice them ahead of time, rehearsing your answers over and over, you'll handle them with ease during the interview.
5. Blurting out how much you hated your last job.
Badmouthing your last job, boss, or company is a frightful mistake, no matter how deserved your criticism is.
6. Showing up dressed like a zombie compared to your interviewers.
Check out the company's website and, if possible, "stalk" the company ahead of time to see how people dress, and try to mimic their style. Or, play it safe and always wear a suit to your job interviews.
7. Being interrupted by your ringing cellphone.
It might seem as though your cellphone is haunted because it only rings during the worst possible moments. To avoid this, make it a pre-interview ritual to turn off your cellphone, double-check your appearance (no parsley in your teeth!) and pop a breath mint before going into a job interview.
8. Smelling like the undead (or overly perfumed).
Would your rather an interviewer remember your overpowering scent, or the awesome answers you gave during the interview? For job interviews, the best course of action is to not wear perfume or cologne at all. As long as you're freshly showered and your clothes are clean, you shouldn't need it.
9. Not offering job references, or offering bad ones.
Leading your interviewers on a wild goose chase as they try to track down your bad references, or worse yet, giving them none at all, means death to your chances. Bring a list of at least three current, reachable job references to every interview and include their phone numbers and email addresses.
10. Grunting like Frankenstein when asked if you have any questions.
The last question of almost every job interview is, "So, what questions do you have for us?" and "none" is not an answer. Bring five to seven thoughtful questions that show you've researched the company and are prepared for the job.
Follow Sara Sutton Fell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/flexjobs