7 surprisingly common interview mistakes that can cost smart people the job

The Biggest Mistake You Can Make on a Job Interview

Any of these goofs will send your application to the reject pile.

You're ultra-qualified for the job and super prepared for the interview. You've done your homework, researching both the company and the hiring manager you're about to meet. You're prepared with intelligent questions and great examples of past accomplishments that prove you'd be a great fit for this position.

You may think all systems are go, but there's still a lot that can go wrong, according to career development expert Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions. In fact, she says, research shows that most interviews go south because of social blunders, not poor qualifications.

When you interview, the person you're talking with will extrapolate from your conversation to try and guess what it would be like to have you around every day. Keep that in mind, and be careful to avoid these all-too-easy errors:

1. Arriving late, even with a good reason.

Yes, there may have been an accident that caused a traffic tie-up, but it might not matter. "Walking in late, even when you have a legitimate excuse, will test your interviewer's patience," Oliver warns. As a practical matter, this means you should plan to be at least a half hour early, and then wait in a nearby caf, park, or even your car until you can show up five minutes before the appointed time.

"Even worse is showing up late and unprepared," she adds. Your only hope is to wow the interviewer with your relevant observations and insightful questions. If you can't do that, you likely won't get the job.

2. Failing to make eye contact or having a weak handshake.

"Much can be determined about a job candidate's character from the initial handshake," Oliver says. "When you have a weak grip, a clammy palm, or won't make eye contact, you imply a lack of confidence and timidity that would make a bad fit in most work environments."

While failure to make eye contact is not necessarily a sign of meekness or dishonesty, most people instinctively perceive it that way. So practice looking the other person in the eye while shaking his or her hand firmly until it becomes second nature. It will serve you well in all sorts of social situations.

Click through for more of the worst body language mistakes to make during an interview:

10 worst body language mistakes during interviews
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7 surprisingly common interview mistakes that can cost smart people the job

Body language expert Tonya Reiman, author of "The Power of Body Language," previously told Business Insider that job candidates should make sure they offer the "appropriate amount of eye contact." 

"If you don't, the interviewer will assume you are either insecure, don't have an appropriate answer for the question being asked, or are being deceptive. Does that mean it's true? No, but perception is everything in a job interview."

Reiman said smiling demonstrates confidence, openness, warmth, and energy. 

"It also sets off the mirror neurons in your listener, instructing them to smile back. Without the smile, an individual is often seen as grim or aloof," she explained.

This may give the interviewer the impression that you're bored or uninterested in the conversation. Instead, keep your hands on the desk or table, and don't fidget.

In their book "Crazy Good Interviewing," John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus suggest showing your palms during an interview — since the gesture indicates sincerity — or pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple. which displays confidence, reports Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz.

Reiman previously told Business Insider you should always be aware of your posture.

"People don't realize that the job interview begins in the waiting room, but it does. So don't slouch in the chair in the reception area," she advised. "In order to be perceived as confident, you must sit or stand tall, with your neck elongated, ears and shoulders aligned, and chest slightly protruding."

This position changes the chemicals in our brain to make us feel stronger and more confident, and it gives the outward appearance of credibility, strength, and vitality, she explained.

Playing with your hair, touching your face, or any other kind of fidgeting can be a major distraction for your interviewer. It also demonstrates a lack of power, said Reiman.

This gesture will tell the interviewer you're not comfortable or you're closed off. 

"You should always keep your hands in view when you are talking," Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of "SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma," previously told Business Insider. "When a listener can't see your hands, they wonder what you are hiding." To look honest and credible, keep your arms uncrossed and show your hands.

"When we touch our faces or hair, it is because we need self soothing,"Reiman explained.

Is that the message you want to send to your interviewer

A weak handshake may tell the interviewer that you're nervous, shy, and that you lack confidence, explains Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy, a customer experience consultancy, in a LinkedIn post

Ideally, your handshake should be firm, but not overbearing. "The secret to a great handshake is palm-to-palm contact," Wood told Business Insider. You want to slide your hand down into the web of theirs, and make palm-to-palm contact. Lock thumbs, and apply an equal amount of pressure.

"It's okay to use your hands to illustrate a few important points," writes Lebowitz. "In fact, research suggests that staying too still can give the impression of coldness. 

"But relying too much on hand gestures can be distracting, according to Molidor and Parus."

She says you should remember you're in a job interview, not a theater audition. 

People tend to show their dominating personality by gripping the interviewer's hand and palming it down, but this tells the interviewer that you need to feel powerful, Reiman explained. "Instead, the handshake should be more natural: thumbs in the upward position and two to three pumps up and down."

As the applicant, you should always wait for the interviewer to extend their hand first, she added. 


3. Distinctive clothing.

You may love that novelty tie or those big, unusual earrings, but leave them at home when heading to a job interview. Yes, they'll be memorable--but you want the hiring manager to remember you for your intelligence and personality, not your attire.

"Your professionalism comes across immediately through your choice of interview attire," Oliver adds. Even in a casual workplace, showing up to a job interview in casual clothes may lead the hiring manager to believe you'll be casual about your job. Likewise, if your clothes look like they'd be in place at a party, the interviewer may assume you don't know how to dress for business.

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4. Slouching.

Most of us are guilty of this at least some of the time, but don't let it happen during a job interview. "Body posture conveys a great deal about an applicant's personality," Oliver says. "Slumping signifies lack of confidence, leg swinging equates with nervousness, and arms folded against the chest demonstrate belligerence or arrogance. Pay close attention to the cues communicated through your body posture. Hiring managers will read them accordingly."

5. Talking too much.

If you're anything like me, you tend to rattle on when you're nervous, but that will work against you in a job interview. "Interviewees who pummel the interviewer with questions, prattle on in their answers, or feel compelled to fill any silence with chit-chat will have hiring managers recoiling from their unchecked verbosity," Oliver warns. Right or wrong, the hiring manager is liable to assume you'll be a nonstop chatterbox if you get the job.

6. Bad grammar or excessively informal speech.

Poor grammar signals poor communication skills to most hiring managers, Oliver explains. "Candidates who use colloquial phrases or are very informal with language can't cut it in the professional world, where written and verbal skills are paramount."

Even worse is profane, derogatory, or otherwise inappropriate language, which, she notes, "shows a lack of sophistication or self-censorship." Make any of these errors and you can expect the interview to end quickly.

7. Unprofessional communication channels.

Your personal email and phone are your own business. Still, Oliver says, if hiring managers see "hotmama" or "partydude" as part of your email address, they may think twice before extending a job offer. The same holds true, she says, if your voicemail message features loud music. "No question, they'll move on to their runner-up candidate and you'll be back to the rsum-submitting stage again."

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