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5 interview mistakes to avoid

June 10, 2009 08:36 IST

So, you've decided that you want a job. You've made a high-impact resume highlighting your skills, applied for multiple jobs of your choice and got a few interview calls. The next step -- and most important -- is the interview. You will not have too much time to create an impact and show that you are the best candidate for this position. So how do you ace your interview?

That's a difficult question to answer. It depends on so many factors beyond the scope of this article. However, it is much easier to identify common mistakes and make a conscious effort to avoid them during the interview.

If you can avoid some of these mistakes, you can improve you chances of a favourable outcome:

Dressing and hygiene
Most hiring managers make the decision in first few minutes of the interview. The rest of the time is spent in validating and justifying the decision. It means that basic hygiene factors become far more important than most people think. It includes dressing appropriately, reaching the venue on time, a firm handshake, positive eye contact, etc. Err on the side of caution and dress up professionally even if the company encourages casual dressing.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to be able to do most of these things effectively. There is no upside in not getting these things right. It's just a matter of discipline and must be enforced during the interview.

Badmouthing previous employer
This is one of the most common mistakes people commit in a job interview. While justifying job switches, a vast majority of candidates say negative things about their previous managers or employers. This shows the negative attitude of the candidate and could also imply that he/she doesn't work well with colleagues and seniors.

Everybody faces issues with a bad manager/employer at some stage in their careers. Make sure you don't mention that in a job interview. The reason for job switches should always be positive -- talk about growth or better opportunities you got elsewhere.

Not preparing enough
It is your responsibility to read about the company's business -- products, competitors, opportunities, challenges, etc and make sure that you bring it up during the interview. These discussions will give the interviewer the confidence that you can hit the ground running and will start contributing much before some of the other candidates. Nothing communicates your interest in the job more than your preparation.

Not listening
Don't make it a one-way street. Your success doesn't depend upon how much you speak. A short and crisp response can show confidence and the depth of your kowledge. Try to engage the interviewer with questions based on your understanding of their business. Listen and then respond appropriately. Try not to ask too many questions either. Never interrupt an interviewer while he is speaking.

Talking money too soon
A lot of candidates start asking questions about salary and benefits during the first interview. It's never a good idea to discuss salary before intent of hiring has been communicated to you. Do not do it unless you are specifically asked your salary details. The more you delay these discussions, the easier it'll be for you to negotiate a higher salary.

The writer is the founder of iimjobs.com -- an exclusive job portal for MBAs from IIMs and other premier business schools in India. He holds a BTech in Computer Science & Engineering from Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University and MBA from Indian Institute of Management Indore.

Tarun Matta