RMN'S Blog

Mistakes to Avoid on Your Next Zoom, Phone, or In-Person Interview

Date: March 24, 2021

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

After waiting months for a call-back, you have finally gotten an interview at your dream job. So, what happens next? You may be thinking, “preparing for the interview of course.” However, how you prepare will largely depend on the type of interview you will be participating in.

Whether you are scheduled for an hour-long Zoom interview or a 15-minute phone interview, here are the biggest mistakes to avoid while interviewing.

Mistakes to Avoid on Zoom

1. Being Too Casual

I get it. Adjusting to the new normal of hybrid-learning and remote work can be stressful. Maybe you have to conduct an interview in your kid’s playroom, or maybe you are still frazzled after a long night with your newborn. Sometimes, there are things that are just out of your control. However, your appearance is not one of them. Having a messy background, or showing up in a wrinkled shirt and pajama bottoms immediately gives a negative impression. An unkept appearance or background implies that you are a disorganized and unprofessional person. To avoid this characterization, dress formally, tidy up your space, and when in doubt, use a Zoom background.

Being too casual with your speech can also give interviewers a bad first impression. Although you may not be interviewing in an office building, face-to-face with your interviewer, you should still speak as if you are in a professional setting. Avoid using slang or idioms, and refrain from using swear words, even if your interviewer drops an f-bomb or two.

2. Being Distracted

Even if your dog is barking in the background and you are a getting a million notifications on your phone, your interviewer does not need to know about it. Being distracted by background noise, or looking at your phone or the other open tabs on your computer is not only rude, but it is also tiresome. No one wants to wait for you to regain focus in the middle of an interview. Being inattentive not only wastes your interviewer’s time, but it also wastes your time.

3. Having a Noisy Background

Sometimes, a little background noise cannot be helped. Still, you should ensure that whatever space you interview in is as quiet as possible. Do not have an interview at a mall food court or other public space with a lot of foot traffic. A home office, or living room or kitchen area are great places to have a Zoom interview. However, you should try to keep outside noises to a minimum. Place your pet in another room, ask friends or family to stay at the opposite end of the house, and turn off electronic devices.

Mistakes to Avoid on the Phone

1. Multitasking

Resist the urge to multitask. Sure, your interviewer may not be able to see you, but they can still tell when you are preoccupied. Going for a walk while you have your interview is fine, but do not start replying to emails or calendaring assignment due dates in the middle of an interview. You will not only be distracted from what the interviewer is asking you, but you may also miss important opportunities to have your questions answered.

2. Eating

Please do your interviewer and yourself a favor and eat before your interview. Nothing is worse than hearing someone chomping and crunching on food while you are talking. Eating before your interview not only helps to avoid having a loud, growling stomach, but it also helps you to focus more on what is being asked and not on your hunger pains.

3. Not Asking Questions

You may think your interviewer has answered all of your questions during the introduction, however, I can assure you, he or she has not. Even if you have not prepared any questions to ask beforehand, if you have been engaged during your interview, you should have some questions. Asking questions shows that you are genuinely interested in the position and want to know what being in that position would be like. Topics such as parking, company culture, or work/life balance may not seem that important, but they absolutely are and should be points of discussion.

Mistakes to Avoid In-Person

1. Being Unprepared

Make it a point to always be prepared. This means doing a little research on the company, the staff, and your interviewer. Preparedness does not end there, however. Prepare yourself for the commute by visiting the office. By travelling to the office, you will know how long it takes to get there and you will know the best route to take. This will help to ensure that you arrive on-time to your interview. Also, make sure you have copies of your resume on hand and be prepared to give specific examples of the work you have done at each placement. Lastly, pack extra masks and hand sanitizer before your interview. You do not want to be the only person not wearing a mask at the office.

2. Being Tired

While being prepared is great, being drained after pulling an all-nighter to prepare is not. Having a good night’s sleep will ensure that you are energized for your interview. No company wants to hire someone who appears unenthusiastic or too exhausted to provide thoughtful responses to questions. Getting some rest will help you appear more focused and alert, so do not skip those six to eight hours of sleep.

3. Skipping Breakfast

A typical interview can last thirty minutes to an hour. Depending on where your interview is being held, the commute can last an hour or more. If you have not eaten breakfast, there is a high probability that you will get hungry during your interview. Even if you are not a “breakfast person,” having a small snack, like a bag of trail mix or yogurt, can improve concentration and provide increased energy. Furthermore, by eating breakfast, you will not have to worry about a growling stomach or hunger pains during your interview.

No matter if you are interviewing with a new legal recruiting firm or a tech start-up, always be prepared and remember to avoid these common pitfalls.

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