Job hunting has been stressful, but you did a great job on your résumé and phone interview, and you’ve made it all the way to the in-person interview. You’re finally getting face time with the people who matter and you don’t want to blow it! So how do you show up as a strong contender and not a total dud?
Sadly there are some common mistakes that candidates like yourself make during in-person interviews, and these missteps can mean the difference between a job offer and a stone-cold rejection.
Everyone deserves a fighting chance, so we caught up with Grammarly recruiter Angela Ritter to get the inside scoop on how to avoid making a bad impression.
Angela’s an experienced recruiter who’s screened, interviewed, and made recommendations on thousands of candidates. She knows firsthand which factors will help you win or lose the job, so read on if you’re ready to hone your interview chops.
Here is Angela’s expert advice on six major gaffes you should avoid at your next in-person interview:
1 Not Explaining Your Full Work History
If you jump around jobs, be prepared to talk about it. Employers don’t love to see that in a background. Why should the company invest in you if you’re going to jump ship in a year?
If your work history includes a lot of short stints, make the reasons clear in your résumé—even adding a parenthesis that explains there was a layoff or something to that effect is better than nothing.
2 Speaking Negatively About Your Previous Company
Be mindful when you talk about your previous companies. Even if you’ve had a negative experience, it’s important to present the positives from it.
Complaining about a previous company, co-worker, or manager makes you look petty, and it may cause the interviewer to question your judgment. Instead, focus on what you learned from challenging experiences and how you’ve grown because of them.
3 Ignoring Social Cues
Pay attention to social cues. It’s tough to interview for a job. People get nervous and that’s certainly fair. But candidates often ramble and overlook cues from the person on the other side of the table.
Check in with your interviewer and ask if your answers are making sense. Offer to elaborate as needed.
4 Arriving Late to Your Interview
Be punctual and arrive for your interview on time. If a candidate is late for or entirely misses their scheduled job interview, this is a huge cause for concern. If you have to reschedule an interview more than once (which does happen), try to avoid doing so at the last minute. Otherwise, you’ll signal to the employer that you are unreliable and not committed.
5 Overselling Your Accomplishments
Humility is your friend in a job search. There’s a fine line between talking positively about your experiences and overselling your abilities. You don’t want to come across as egocentric.
If there are projects you worked on with teammates, make sure to acknowledge their contributions and avoid taking credit for the entire thing. It’s apparent when someone is not humble about their accomplishments.
6 Research the Company Before Your Interview
Investigating the company you’re interviewing with is an absolute must. Make sure you have used their product or checked their website and social media accounts so you can speak about the company intelligently and ask relevant questions. You don’t have to rely on the same canned questions most candidates ask at the interview table.
This is a really important point—it can be embarrassing and awkward if a candidate advances in the interview process and still doesn’t have a baseline awareness of the company’s mission. Educate yourself before you ever walk through the door!