Job interviews are stressful… no matter how much we prepare. You can read 40 blog posts, talk to every career coach and watch dozens of instructional videos, but you can still be totally caught off guard.
There may be curveballs thrown at you or things you can’t control, but there’s a way to take charge and be aware of anything that might sabotage your chances.
Here are eight things you need to be on the lookout for:
1. Having a Bad Handshake
We’ve talked about the power of body language, and a handshake is one of the big indicators. It’s been said that employers can tell if a candidate is right for a job within 30 seconds of meeting the person. Because you typically shake hands within those first 30 seconds, there’s a lot of pressure. You don’t want to be a dead fish, but you also don’t want to grip so hard that your interviewer can’t hold her coffee later that day.
Careful of sweaty palms! You want to go for a firm, confident handshake that shows you mean business. Watch Jerry Seinfeld’s great monologue on handshakes below:
2. Dressing Too Well
I know what you’re thinking: Don’t you want to dress really well for an interview? Isn’t that where the saying “dress for success” comes from? Dressing too well for an interview, meaning statement pieces and a really opulent bag and shoes, could actually convey that you’re dressing to overcompensate. You may not have the skills or savvy for the job, so you’re trying to dress to make up for it.
3. Talking Too Little or Too Much
If you’re anything like me, you tend to get nervous during pauses in conversation and start talking to fill the void. Sometimes I will just start singing if there is too long a lull (but not in a job interview, of course). What’s important to remember is this: You don’t want to fill the pauses in conversation with rambling, but you also don’t want the pause to go on for eternity. Try to strike a good balance.
4. Treating Your Job Interview as One of Your Errands
Never show up at a job interview with a bunch of shopping bags and your dry cleaning. It makes it look like you aren’t prioritizing the opportunity or the company, which speaks volumes about how you might perform if hired. Also, don’t bring your Starbucks cup to the interview. Just don’t.
5. Coming Off as Bitter
It’s really hard when you’ve burned by an employer in the past or have just had terrible luck in your job search, but you need to come off as a positive, optimistic candidate and a good choice for the hire. That includes trashing your former employer, which is something you should never, ever do.
6. Being Over-friendly
It’s great to connect personally with the person interviewing you, but you also have to show why you are right for the job. There’s a great episode of Friends where Rachel interviewed for a job at Saks Fifth Avenue and thought it went really well because the interviewer loved her and they had so much in common.
Rachel is then shocked when she learns that Saks picked another candidate. A connection may get you in the door, but it won’t always get you the job.
7. Focusing on the Perks of the Job
Perks, like benefits and vacation, are important parts of a job, but let the interviewer bring them up and don’t make them the focus of the interview. It could look like you aren’t interested in anything else. Like, you know, the actual job.
8. Displaying Ambivalent Body Language
In addition to your handshake, be aware of the rest of your body language. Are you shrugging a lot? Are you sitting up straight? Are you nodding too much? Be sure to watch your eye contact as well. You want it to be strong, but you don’t want to stare and make your interviewer feel uncomfortable. Be relaxed, and be poised.
Job interviews are hard enough. Avoid these eight methods of self-sabotage… and win your next interview.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League!
About the Author: Meredith Lepore is the former editor of the women’s career site, The Grindstone. Before that she was on staff at Wall Street Letter and Business Insider and was a contributing writer for Learnvest. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University after graduating with a degree in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys reading, jogging, shopping and playing with her puppy, Otis.