For many people, the most stressful part of the job-hunting process is the interview. That's the time when you have to sell yourself and prove why you're perfectly suited for the job. Many well-qualified people stumble and make mistakes that kill their chances of getting the job. Here are the most common mistakes I see people make:
Carrying too much stuff into the interview. You want to seem the consummate professional, not a harried traveler navigating through airport security. A slim portfolio or folder to carry extra resumes, pad and pen is all you should have. Ask if you can store your overcoat, umbrella or heavy bag while you are interviewing. Don't carry a beverage into the interview but if they offer you something during your meeting, always take the water. If you get thirsty later, you'll appreciate it (and unlike soda, coffee and tea, water dries clear should you spill it.)
Bragging that you're a 'perfectionist.' Many interviewers will see this as a red flag; it means you're difficult to work with and will never let go of a project. Say, instead, you're detail-oriented.
Confessing to multiple weaknesses. Interviewers commonly ask job applicants to describe their biggest weakness to see if people are humble and self-aware enough to identify something they can improve upon. But that doesn't mean you should cite a list of faults. Name one weakness that is relevant to the job, and explain how you are working to improve that skill.
Giving obviously rehearsed answers. It's important that you seem relatable, natural and likable, as well as competent and smart. Show your personality since the interviewer is checking you out for a workplace fit. I think of this as the "airport test": If the interviewer got stuck in the airport with you for several hours, would he or she consider you a desirable co-worker? Or would you be the kind of person who drove everyone crazy?
Having no clue about the company you're interviewing with. You should always be able to answer the question, "Tell me what you know about this company." Before the interview, you need to check out the company's website and speak with people who might also know the organization. This is how the human resources team determines if you are just fishing for any job or you are genuinely interested in their company and this particular opportunity. An interviewer wants to know that you took the time to do your due diligence since competition is fierce and not preparing indicates a lack of seriousness.
Answering your phone or fumbling with it. Sure, it's rude if the interviewer is constantly checking his BlackBerry, but if your phone goes off during the interview, you just look unprofessional. Seriously, if the phone is set to beep, light or play a concerto, make sure it's really powered off before the interview so you give your undivided attention.
Are there more mistakes you have seen job candidates make -- or made yourself? Share them in the comments section below.