The interview is your opportunity to show an employer you're the right person for the job you applied for, so you need to make a good impression.
With that in mind, here are five mistakes you should definitely try to avoid making during that first meeting.
1. Over prepare or under prepare
It’s clearly essential to make sure that you do your homework before an interview – reading up on the company is important, as is making certain you are very clear in your mind about the job, what it entails, what the company is looking for and how you fit their needs.
It’s also vital you reread your own CV and application letter beforehand to make sure you aren't caught out on anything you've forgotten to mention.
But just as it’s vital to prepare, it’s also important not to over prepare. Rehearsing answers to possible questions can sometimes mean you end up sounding fake, as though you’re reading from a script. It can also lead to you looking for ways to shoehorn in your rehearsed answers rather than responding to questions more directly.
2. Be a passive interviewee
Many people make the mistake of thinking that being interviewed is all about being asked questions. It’s not. An interview is very much about both sides finding out more about each other, and so it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your potential employer questions.
Often you'll be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview, so make sure you take the opportunity to ask a few relevant ones. If you do your homework you can use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and of the job, as well as finding out important things that could make a difference to you.
3. Be critical
It’s a mistake made too often – criticising your current or former employer and using this as an opportunity to demonstrate how much better your ideas are, how observant you are and how forward thinking you are. What it will actually do is make the potential employer nervous, seeing you as an awkward, critical outsider rather than someone who can work positively as part of a team.
4. Be personal, relaxed and chatty
It’s okay to be nervous at an interview. Nerves keep you on your toes, constantly judging how you’re doing. Being too relaxed can lead to you becoming too familiar or personal. Keep your private life out of the interview and be professional at all times.
5. Keep your phone handy in case you get another offer
It’s staggering how often we've heard of candidates glancing at their phone during an interview. We've also heard of several cases of people texting during an interview, and even answering the phone if it rings. Make sure that, well before you enter the interview room, your phone is switched off and out of sight.