Top Five Ways to Mess-Up an Interview

With the 2010 Career Services’ Job & Internship Fair less than a week away, students might be wondering what  it is that makes a good interview?—what is that magic spark that sets you apart from other potential employees? As a student myself, I’ve heard it all before—be professional—dress nicely—be confident, but what does that really mean? So instead of repeating the vague statements we’ve all been told we should do, I’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes college students make during interviews to help ensure that you make the most of your job fair and interview experience! 

 1. Don’t Prepare. Don’t do your research. Don’t even know the name of the company you’re interviewing with.

“A candidate for an accounting position said she was a ‘people person’ not a ‘numbers person’”

This is a HUGE no-no.  Failing to prepare, even just skimming the company’s website or knowing its name and what their underlying purpose is, will end your search for employment. I promise. Simply clicking the “About Us” button on their website will give you enough information to sound intelligent. Secondly, employers want to know that you want to be employed. A potential employee that is unable to answer questions about the company screams lazy.  Now, what sane employer would hire a lazy person? Exactly, none. So do your homework.

 2. Poor Communication. Talking too much. Not talking enough.

Lacking the communication skills to speak to an employer is a huge turn off. If you can’t speak to them or if they can’t get you to stop …they’ll move on. Employment is about communication, and learning to communicate effectively to get the job done. It is so important to positively connect with the person who will potentially hire you. A firm hand shake, eye contact, and confidence are examples of this, but you also want to be polite, friendly, approachable, yet reserved. Remember they are interviewing you for a job, not your autobiography, but also remember that they want to know something about you. You’re going to have to talk. Let your own light shine through, but don’t blind them. Interview communication is all about balance. Be conscious of what you said, what you plan to say, and what your potential employer might want to say. Balance the conversation and communication will be a breeze.

 3. Don’t bring your Resume or Cover Letter—Who needs that anyway??

YOU DO! This is such an incredible mistake that so many students make. Don’t let this happen to you—bring extra an extra copy of your resume and cover letter to an interview, or in a job fair setting bring multiple copies of each.  Employers appreciate getting an “inside” look at the skills and knowledge of you, the person they are interviewing, before even meeting you, but also bringing a resume to an interview shows your preparedness and organization. It is always better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. So print out a few extra, while you’re at it and get yourself one step closer to landing that interview!

 4. Wear the same thing you wore to the gym.

 “A candidate smelled his armpits on the way into the interview room”

…Ok maybe that’s an exaggeration but dressing inappropriately is the best way to offend your potential employer before you even open your mouth. First of all, your clothes should fit…loosely. Second, they should be conservative and for lack of a better word, boring. Your potential employer doesn’t care how fashionable you are or whether you have a six-pack. As you’re getting dressed remember you’re here to get a job, not make friends. Third, make sure that your attire is appropriate for the job setting.  For example you wouldn’t hire a lawyer that dressed like Flavor Flav, would you? Therefore, you should not expect an employer to hire you as an office representative in your gym clothes or pajamas. Think about what you’re going to wear. Wear what other people wear in the place that you’re applying. Do some research. Be boring—you’re selling your work ethic, not your outfit.

 5. Don’t say “Thank you”.

 I know that you’re nervous, but use your manners. Remember to say “Thank you” and smile. An interviewer is searching for clues about your personality and character as they speak with you. Let them know you are polite and respectful. However, manners come into play most importantly after the interview. Sending a “Thank you” note is an easy way to ensure that your employer remembers you long after the interview is over. It also lets the employer know how interested you are in the position. A simple hand-written note is best. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Express your interest in the position. Let them know you are looking forward to hearing from them. It’s easy and simple, and it costs less than .50 cents—I’d say that’s a reasonable fee for a successful interview.

Avoiding these mistakes will help make each and every one of your interview experiences a positive one.  Good luck to all students attending the Job & Internship Fair here at UWGB on Wednesday, September 29, 2010. If you have any questions regarding this information or the upcoming Job & Internship Fair please contact us at: 920-465-2163, by email at:, or find us on Facebook.