We’ve all got bad habits, but job interviews are no place for them to show up. For example, you could have a killer answer for every question that comes up, but if other applicants do too, speaking too fast or fidgeting may cost you the job. Before you head into any interview, try and remind yourself to curb some of these bad habits.
1. Speaking without thinking
There is no need to rush your answers in a job interview. A hiring manager is not going to think less of you because you took a few minutes to come up with a solid answer. On the other hand, rushing into saying the first thing that comes to mind could lose you the job altogether if it was the wrong thing to say.
Every time you’re asked a question in an interview, take a moment to yourself to mull it over while constructing a response you’re happy with. If the silence is too nerve-wracking for you to take, you might be able to stall by asking “could you repeat that question again?” or even be open about taking the time to think: “that’s a great question, let me think about that for a second.” The fact you’re being thoughtful about your answers and not rushing into anything will shine through, impressing the hiring manager.
Interruptions happen, but you have to be especially mindful of them when you’re in a job interview. It’s accidental, sure, but it’s very unprofessional and can come off as straight up disrespectful, even if that wasn’t your intent. So, even if you already know where the question is going, don’t try to finish it for the interviewer or jump right into your prepared answer. If you’re making conversation with each other, as informal as it may feel, you’re still in a professional setting where interrupting will not be tolerated.
Tie this into your mental reminder to not speak without thinking – if you have an interrupting problem, take the time you stay quiet to make sure your interviewer gets everything they need to say completely out.
3. Ignoring your body language
Body language speaks as loud as your answers to the interviews. Whenever you’re in an interview, be conscious of how you’re presenting yourself through your body. Even if hunching over or slouching is natural for you, sit up straight to look as attentive as possible. If you struggle with making eye contact, practice until you can nail it in a job interview. Avoid any sort of fidgeting as well – bouncing your leg, twiddling your thumbs, anything of the sort. These are common nervous tics, and the interviewer will pick up on that and interpret your movement as a lack of confidence.
When you’re in a job interview, sit up straight, clasp your hands if you need something to do with them, make full eye contact and ensure that you show you’re listening – nodding along with them, being visually attentive. Your body language may seem inconsequential to you, but if another applicant has poor body language, sitting up straight and smiling wide can be the final key that gets you the job – you’ll come across as more confident and interested than the other applicant.
4. Showing up unprepared
A bad habit that plenty of applicants have happens well before the interview – not learning everything they can about the company and the position. What if the interviewer asks you why you want to work at that company? What if they ask you about the company’s values, or what past work you’re familiar with? You need to be prepared. Knowledge translates to interest and therefore excitement in the company, and obviously you’re more likely to be hired if you seem interested and excited to work there.
Study for a job interview like it’s a test. Read through the company’s websites, articles about them, LinkedIn posts, and look for projects they’ve done at the past, especially anything relating to your position.
Think back to your past job interviews and identify any potential bad habits you need to restrain next time you’re at an interview. You can relax, you can be yourself, just prepare well in the days prior and show up ready to listen and show you’re invested.
Need more help preparing for your next interview? Book an Interview Prep Session with Style Nine to Five’s founder, Christie Lohr!
Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
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