It’s a statistic you’ve probably heard before: It only takes a few seconds for people to make a judgment about you, especially when it comes to job interviews.
During that very short time, a hiring manager will make crucial determinations about you, including your likability, your trustworthiness, how aggressive or passive you seem and how well you would fit in with others on the team.
As the CEO of a large job recruiting firm, I’ve seen a lot of sloppy job interviewing mistakes in my decades-long career. Here are some of the biggest that will instantly destroy a first impression:
3. Having no relevant examples of accomplishments
The interviewer asks you to elaborate on the accomplishments you’ve listed on your resume, and because you’re nervous, you mind goes blank. You stumble along, maybe even reading from a copy of your resume.
But the interviewer is listening for specifics to determine how you match the demands of the job and how well you would communicate with colleagues and clients.
The examples you give should cover four key areas:
- The challenge (or opportunity) faced
- The actions taken
- The results achieved
- The lessons learned from the experience
4. Talking too much or too little
The interviewer asks you a question that you’re not prepared to answer: “Tell me how you would handle [X] challenge…”
In a panic, you either you go on and on, hoping that you’ll say something relevant, or you give a short answer and then go silent. Yikes!
The best way to prepare is by rehearsing. Do a mock interview with a mentor or friend and practice giving clear and concise responses to common interview questions. (Don’t forget to ask the interviewer your own questions as well.)
5. Appearing desperate
Nonverbal cues like sitting on the edge of your chair or saying things like “When will I hear from you?” can radiate desperation.
It may also raise doubts about your abilities, your fit with the organization and why others haven’t hired you.
Some quick body language tips that will make you look more confident:
- Make eye contact: You’ll appear friendlier and more focused.
- Avoid looking down: You’ll appear distracted or lacking in confidence.
- Arms free, not folded: You’ll project openness, while keeping your hands free to gesture.
- Sitting forward/back: Leaning forward helps you present your ideas. If you lean back while listening, keep your posture open.
- Smile: You’ll convey happiness and confidence, while making others feel good about themselves.
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