By Jim Wong, CPA | August 12, 2015


You’ve got a stellar resume, all the right experience and landed an interview. So, why no job offer?

Once you create a brilliant resume and get it in front of a hiring manager, waiting to be called in for an interview is often the grueling part of your job search. You may think that since you have the experience and skillsets for the role, that if you can just get in the door you’ll be a shoo-in for the position, right?

Not so fast.

If you find yourself time and time again making it through to the interview process but never actually receiving a job offer, you may be self-sabotaging yourself, and your career, by making small mistakes – and not even realizing it.

These tiny (and avoidable) missteps can be your downfall in your job search, but they don’t have to be.

Know how to conduct yourself before, during and immediately following a job interview so that you can make right impression on the interviewers. It could mean the difference between receiving an offer for that SOX Auditor, Finance Manager or Systems Administrator role you’re vying for – or not.

CIO.com recently published an article on a similar topic. I think they included some great pointers that anyone can use during their job search and interview process. It’s about being self-aware at all times. I’ve included some tips from the article as well as a few comments of my own in the 9 Mistakes to Avoid During A Job Interview below:

1. Arriving with food and drink

Besides a copy of your resume and your portfolio, you shouldn’t bring anything else with you to an interview. Forget the coffee, tea and soda at home. In fact, you shouldn’t bring any type of food or beverage with you for that matter. If you must, it’s acceptable to bring a small bottle of water and that’s it. Most offices will offer you coffee or water when you arrive. It’s perfectly acceptable to say ‘yes’ to a bottle of water, but it’s best to politely decline any coffee. You run the risk of spilling it, looking like you’re getting a little too comfortable, or even worse, that you desperately need that cup of Joe. Pick up your latte at the coffee shop on the way home from your interview, if you must.

2. Wearing the wrong ensemble

If you’re unclear on the dress code of your company, be sure to ask before you arrive for the interview. In today’s workplace, you can never be too sure about a company’s culture. Some businesses work in a casual environment while others stick to business or business casual. Whatever the culture indicates, dress one level above that, and you should be good to go. If you have any tattoos or piercings, cover them up for the interview. Then, if you end up receiving a job offer, you can politely work that into the conversation down the line.

3. Not being conscious of your time

You never want to be late to an interview. Even if it’s a minute or two, it will not be perceived as respectable. Alternately, if you arrive too early, the interviewer can get anxious about you arriving far ahead of your scheduled appointment. It’s best to arrive 15 minutes before your interview. This will give you enough time to check in with the front desk and organize yourself. You may want to stop in the restroom to make sure your clothes, hair and make-up are still tidy after your commute. Women should be sure to fix any eye smudges or lipstick on their teeth, and both men and women should fix any hair that may have flown out of place from the wind or elements.

4. Forgetting your ID

Many office buildings require you to sign-in with a government-issued ID in order to enter the building. If you forget yours, you might as well forget your interview. You don’t want to make the company you’re interviewing for have to jump through hoops just to allow you in. This can also lead to you being late (refer to number 3 of this list) or even having to reschedule altogether. If that happens, chances are someone else can get interviewed in the meantime, putting more competition in your way – leaving you without an offer.

5. Only answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’

You’re not going to the dentist for your job interview. So, you don’t want to make the interviewer have to pull your teeth in order to get details about your work experience. You want to answer questions – even if they’re just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions – in a succinct and well-thought out manner. You don’t want to ramble on and on. Stick to one clear thought, answer the question fully, and then quietly wait for the next question. Be sure to incorporate all of your strengths, experience and skillsets, without boasting, whenever possible.

6. Lying.

No matter how small of a white lie you tell on your resume or in an interview, chances are it will be discovered at some point. You don’t want to start off with a company in any negative light, and it’s certainly no way to get a job offer. If there is anything that you’re uncomfortable with regarding your work history, plan out ahead of time how you’re going to address it. If you have gaps in employment, be honest and explain. If you don’t have a particular skillset, mention it and back it up with other strengths you do have. Interviewers have heard it all. You most likely will not be offering any earth-shattering news that they haven’t heard before. If you’re right for the role, they will work around any minor shortcomings.

7. Immediately asking about benefits

An interview is not the place to ask about summer hours, 401k matching or how much vacation time you will accrue. An interview should be reserved for hashing out the job details and company culture, and seeing if that gels with your history and experience. If perks and benefits are an absolute need-to-know, then cleverly ask the interviewer questions that would provoke them to talk about those details. Coming right out and asking how much sick time you receive, may come across as off-color.

8. Being a downer

No matter what industry your accounting, finance or IT role is in, be sure to sound passionate about it when you’re in the interview. While you’re doing your research on the firm ahead of time, look for small things to relate to and express those in the interview. Whether you point out something unique about the company, its location or recent news, be sure to show that you’ve done your research and connected to it in some capacity. Also, be sure not to speak poorly about any past employers or managers. This will not shed you in a positive light, no matter the circumstance. You may have the urge to complain when the interviewer asks why you left a previous position or why you’re looking to leave your current role, however, you will be better off leaving this information out.

9. Forgetting to send thanks

This small gesture can be the make or break moment in receiving the job offer. It’s quick and easy, and there’s really no reason not to send one. If you’ve been on quite a few interviews and haven’t gotten an offer, think about whether you sent a Thank You note or not. Then, be sure not to make that mistake again in the future.

What are some other mistakes to avoid during a job interview? Comment below and let us know!


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