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The latest advice and best practices in hiring and careers.

5 Lessons Learned from Interview Blunders

Calling all job seekers! In today’s competitive job market, you already know you cannot afford to mess up any job opportunity that comes your way. And you are well aware of the need to make the absolute best possible first impression should your job-search efforts land you an interview.

So, pore over these interview blunders and learn from the mistakes of others.

1.    Arriving late or too early

Arriving late to an interview will not create the positive impression necessary to elevate yourself above the crowd. It demonstrates not only a disregard for the interviewer’s time, but tardiness also portrays a lackadaisical attitude toward the job opportunity.

However, Deborah Walker of Quintessential Careers suggests that showing up more than 10 minutes early may send a message that you’re desperate. The best approach to a timely arrival involves a test drive before the interview day to avoid being late or too early. And spend a few minutes synchronizing your watch with the clocks at home and in the car.

  1. Negative talk about current or past employers/managers

Even if every word is the absolute, proven truth, under no circumstances should you say anything negative about the company, management, or coworkers at a former place of employment. Should your past include an unpleasant situation or experience, prepare an answer that suggests a positive spin, or a lesson learned if the subject cannot be avoided.

  1. Talking too much

Lengthy answers that include more detail than necessary can quickly turn into a rambling, irrelevant talking jag. Not only will the interviewer grow weary of listening—and possibly miss a bit of pertinent information—chattering on and on will not aid that positive first impression that’s of uber importance these days.

“As much as a job interview feels like it’s all about you, it’s really about how you will fit into the company and the role,” reminds Ashira Prossack. “Keep this in mind, and you’ll be able to answer the questions in a way that sets you apart from the other candidates.” 

  1. Inquiring about salary, benefits, or vacation time

The first interview is not the time to seek detailed information about the compensation package. Your focus should center around aligning your qualifications and skills with the open position.

David Kahn, VP of Human Resources, relays an experience where the interviewee repeatedly inquired about benefits. “No matter how hard we tried to steer her back, she could not drop the topic. When I finally told her, she said, ‘Great, I’ll take it.’ We tried to explain that the job had not yet been offered, but that did not seem to change her mind.”

  1. Not being prepared

“It’s not just talent and credentials alone that get you hired,” says Prossack. “It’s how you show up to the interview. The hiring manager wants to see that you’ve researched the company and the role.”

That means being familiar with the job requirements and articulating how your skillset and experience have prepared you to fill the position. Prepare a list of questions about this role and the company to demonstrate your genuine interest in this opportunity.

In today’s tough job market, where candidates line up for every open position, interview blunders will be remembered. And not for reasons that will aid the candidate’s quest for a job. So, blunder-proof your next interview with thoughtful preparation.