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3 Dangerous Mistakes You Must Avoid in a Job Interview

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Recognizing and avoiding critical mistakes in an interview is just as important as responding correctly to questions.

In this article, I will share with you 3 of the most dangerous interview mistakes you must avoid if you want to be successful and maximize your chances.

1. Lack of Enthusiasm

Lack of enthusiasm is probably the most common reason a company may reject an otherwise qualified candidate. You'd be surprised at how often I have received this feedback during my recruitment career: "This candidate is strong, but we feel he/she isn't interested in the role." Or "He/she seems knowledgeable, but we are concerned about the lack of energy." And as a result, the employer chooses not to proceed.

In an interview, 99% of the time, your attitude is more important than what you say. People remember how you made them feel much more than what you said – and the same goes for interviewers.

You see, an interview is the only avenue and opportunity the interviewer has to meet and get to know someone they will likely spend 8-10 hours a day every day. And this is the only set of data and information to make a hiring decision.

Therefore, everything you do and say and every impression you make will be accentuated.

If someone is not enthusiastic during the interview, the employer will think, "how much less so would they be on a regular workday?" A lack of enthusiasm will only be translated as a lack of energy and lack of interest

Regardless of how strong someone is, if they are not keen on the role and company, it's hard to imagine this person performing well and adding much value to the team. If anything, they will be disgruntled and leave the firm soon.

Some people say they are concerned about coming across as desperate, which is why they choose to play it "cool" and not express their eagerness, but this is a big mistake.

Presenting yourself as an energetic and interested candidate is how you come across as highly attractive to the employer. On the flip side, not doing this will only raise concerns in the employer's mind.

2. Complaining about the past employer

You may have heard of this one before, but it always comes up time and time again.

You may genuinely feel that the past employer was at fault, and you may be 100% right, but talking negatively about your past employer will not help you in your interview.

Why is that? It's because, generally speaking, in any conflict, both parties have responsibilities and areas to improve.

Conflict with an employer is a common phenomenon, and if you complain about the other party only (even if it is true), the interviewer may think that you are someone who doesn't take responsibility for your own actions – which will negatively affect your candidacy.

The second reason is that if a job seeker mentions their previous firm in a negative light, the new employer will assume that the candidate will do the same when they decide to leave again and interview with the next employer. As a result, they may be hesitant to hire the person.

If you need to explain why you left your previous firm, focus on positive or neutral reasons such as career growth, new challenges, a bigger (or smaller) platform, a different industry, etc. But you do not want to point out their faults or criticize or blame them.

3. Steppingstone

Please, do not EVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, even remotely indicate that the role you're interviewing for is ultimately a steppingstone for some other position or career.

This mistake is probably the biggest turn-off for any hiring manager.

First, it indicates that you're not, in fact, genuinely interested in the role.

Second, from the employer's point of view, they're going to think, "I have to spend all this time and effort training and investing in the new person. And he will be moving on in a short period of time or the first chance he gets."

Plus, nobody likes to be used as a means for something else!

Usually, people do not say this outright in an interview, of course. But often, the mistake occurs when discussing one's career goals or reasons for applying to the new. A job seeker may say something along the lines of "My career goals is xyz (which is a different role, business area, function, etc.) and I believe that this role will help me move closer to my career goal which is why I am applying."

In fact, you don't even have to be that upfront. Mentioning anything other than the role you're interviewing for itself as one of your career goals will be interpreted as that you are committed to the position and will work against you.

Another mistake is asking about internal mobility. Sometimes people do this when asking about benefits or company culture. This is a big no-no!

The employer will only think, "this person hasn't even started with the company, and they are already considering internal mobility!!" which will only turn them off or make them skeptical.

So, make sure you do not say anything that may suggest the role or the employer is a stepping stone to something else.

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