5 ways to look foolish in an interview

Posted by Amanda Augustine

April 01, 2013 @ 12:51 PM

Don’t let the joke be on you – properly prepare for each interview so you don’t look like a fool.

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Happy April Fools’ Day everyone! While April 1 is not considered a national holiday, it is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.

While you may enjoy the occasional prank, you’ll find that many people do not enjoy being the butt of someone else’s jokes – especially in the workplace. This is especially true during the job search. The last thing you want to do is look foolish in front of an important networking contact or potential employer. Avoid these five mistakes that will leave you looking foolish in an interview. [TWEET]

You arrive late to the interview

Don’t send the wrong signals before the interview begins. Consider a dress rehearsal before the big day. Commute to the employer’s office at the same time of day you are scheduled for your interview so you can budget your travel time appropriately. Always pad in extra time, just in case something comes up. Find a nearby coffee shop so you have a place to go if you arrive too early for the actual interview. I recommend showing up fifteen minutes before your scheduled meeting to allow time to fill out paperwork.

You didn’t prepare your elevator pitch

Chances are you will be asked to tell the interviewer a little bit about yourself. I can guarantee the interviewer doesn’t want to know about your love of long walks on the beach (unless that’s part of the job). And you’re not doing yourself any favors by asking the interviewer what they want to know about you. Before the interview, review the job description and think back to your initial phone screen to determine the core must-haves for this role. Use those top requirements to modify your elevator pitch to explain your qualifications for the role.

You didn’t research the company

There’s nothing worse than showing up unprepared for an interview. Employers want to know you took the time to read their website and recent news articles about their organization and industry, so that you have a good understanding of how they work and what’s going on in their world. Prove that you’ve done your homework by asking questions that reflect this research. Whenever possible, find someone you know who works at the company and grab a cup of coffee with them to learn more about the organization and its culture.

You have no questions for the hiring manager

It’s essential to have good questions ready – even if you’re meeting with the nth person at the company where you’re interviewing. Have at least five questions prepared that prove you’ve done your homework on the organization and are truly interested in working there. These questions will also help you gain a better understanding of the role, its requirements, and the company culture so you can determine if it’s a good fit for you.

You forget to follow up after the interview

Think of your thank you message as a tool to influence the interviewer and advance your position. If you skip the thank you, you’re missing out on an opportunity to keep your candidacy top of mind and reinforce your interest in the role. Send a thoughtful thank you note to each interviewer within 24 hours of every interview. Make sure to collect business cards or write down the proper spelling of the interviewers’ names and email addresses during the interview process to ensure follow-up in a timely manner.

Properly prepare for your interview and you’ll be sure to avoid looking foolish. 

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Ask Amanda AugustineAmanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

Topics: Ask Amanda, Interview