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Job Interview Mistakes

Receive helpful advice from a career expert on how to avoid interview mistakes.

Four Common Job Interview Mistakes -- And How to Fix Them

by Kevin Donlin

"Many's the slip twixt cup and lip," said Shakespeare (if I remember my high school English correctly).

Translated to your job search, that phrase means: "Even the best resume in the world is worthless if you fluff the interview." Unfortunately, it happens every day. Job seekers send out excellent resumes, get called for the interview ... and blow it.

So, to help you avoid the most common interview blunders, I consulted a nationally renowned expert on the subject, Carole Martin.

The following tips are from my conversation with Carole, the Job Interview Coach for Monster.com and the most capable interview expert I know, with 15 years of human resources management experience.

Blunder #1: Poor Non-Verbal Communication

"Interviewing effectively is about demonstrating confidence. Things like standing straight, making eye contact, and connecting with a good, firm handshake are all vitally important," says Martin.

Think of it like this: we humans have only been using words for the past 10,000 years or so, right? Before that, we communicated by grunting, posturing and clubbing each other over the head.

We humans have been paying attention to non-verbal cues for many thousands of years longer than we have verbal ones. It's in our genes.

The person who interviews you is no different. That's why your body language plays such a vital role in shaping the first impression you make. It can be a great beginning to your interview. Or a quick ending.

Practice accordingly.

Blunder #2: Failure to Listen Actively

"From the moment you start talking, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not listening actively, you're missing out on a major opportunity," says Martin.

Make sure you take copious notes, jotting down every key phrase and idea your interviewer uses. Doing so will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, your attention to detail ... and it will help you recall what is said. So you won't ask a question that's already been answered, for example.

Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what they said. Observe your interviewer and match their style and pace.

Blunder #3: Talking Too Much

"Telling the interviewer more than they need to know can be a fatal mistake. Candidates who don't prepare ahead of time tend to ramble, sometimes talking themselves right out of the job," says Martin.

Remember that you're at the job interview to get information as much as you are to give it.

"Prepare for the interview by reading the job posting thoroughly. Try to focus on the skills you have that match the requirements of the position, and relate only that information," says Martin.

Blunder #4: Appearing Desperate

This can be tough to avoid in the current job market. After all, you need a job! But you must rein in your emotions.

"As a rule, if you interview with a 'Please, please, hire me,' mind-set, you will appear less confident. Maintain the three Cs during your next interview: Cool, Calm, and Confident! You know you can do the job. Make sure the interviewer knows you can, too," says Martin.

Kevin Donlin owns and operates Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1995, he has provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients. He is the author of The Last Guide to Cover Letter & Resume Writing You'll Ever Need, a do-it-yourself manual with sample cover letters and resumes.

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