Similar to Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, students make mistakes to drive away employers just as Hudson did to drive away Matthew McConaughey's character. You walk into the interview and know that nobody on earth is more qualified for the position than you, but you walk out with a rejection. What went wrong? Before you blame the interviewer, consider that it might be you, not them.
You can’t show up on time. My own rule is to show up ten minutes before the interview, no more and no less. This way you’ll be ready to go if they want to start early, but you won’t be sitting awkwardly for too long if they want to start on time, or even late (they can do this, but not you).
You look sloppy. If it’s a business professional interview, wear a suit. If it’s casual, dress a step up from your everyday attire. Either way, you should never wear jeans, sweat pants or tennis shoes to an interview. Make sure that your blouse or dress shirt is ironed and all your buttons are buttoned. For women, it’s especially important to ensure that your clothing is appropriate for the situation – no skirts that don’t reach your knees or skin tight or low V-neck tops.
Your handshake isn’t up to snuff. You need to have one handshake for everyone – male or female, and make it a good one. Firm, but not crushing, and definitely not weak. Test out your handshake with your parents or a professor. Many employers believe they can learn a lot about a potential employee by his or her handshake.
You can’t tell them about yourself. “Tell me about yourself” is a common question, and your reply should never ever be, “Well, what do you want to know?” A basic rule of thumb is to provide them with 60-second elevator pitch prepared. Read this blog, Tell Me About Yourself for great advice on how to answer that question.
You won’t make eye contact. Not making eye contact might show interviewer that you’re nervous, or it might indicate that you are lying. Eye contact shows confidence in yourself to the interviewer. Practice making eye contact by using a mirror or a friend before the day of your interview.
You don’t know anything about the company. Do your research about the company before your interview. This should be more extensive than what you find on the home page of their website. Set aside an hour or just half an hour if that’s all you’ve got, but have something to say about the company. Try the CCO’s Career Wiki for some helpful pointers. Take the time to show the interviewer you care about their company.
You don’t know anything about the position. Read the position description before walking in to the interview. Know how your skills are valuable to the position, and be able to talk about why that makes you an ideal candidate.
You’re cocky. Don’t be overconfident. It’s unpleasant, and they won’t want to work with you, even if you are qualified for the position. It’s not the quality you want show off, especially when making a first impression.
You don’t have any questions at the end. Prepare questions to ask the interviewers ahead of time. When they ask if you have questions, “No, you’ve answered them all” is the worst thing you can say. Always ask your interviewers a few questions about the position or company when they ask you this question. You can ask them anything from what type of community service the company is involved with, to what would your office look like.
You don’t follow up. Send a thank you note right after the interview or an e-mail; maybe even both. You might not get a reply, but that doesn’t mean the gesture wasn’t appreciated. If you don’t hear back about the position in a couple weeks, send a polite e-mail to ask for a status update on your application. I was given this advice from a recruiter once: “If it’s been two weeks, it’s okay to ask. If it’s been two months, don’t bother. You didn’t get the job.” Following up with a quick thank you letter is a great way to show the interviewers that you care about the job you just interviewed for, and are still interested in working with them.