5 Subtle Ways to Sabotage a Job Interview

We all know that showing up late to an interview or dressing inappropriately can ruin your chances for a job. But what about the more subtle ways you might unexpectedly sabotage your job interview? Don’t let it happen to you! Here are ten common subconscious mistakes that many people don’t even know they’re making.

1. Not Shaking the Interviewer’s Hand
Problem: First impressions are vital in an interview. When meeting your interviewer for the first time, there are three faux pas that you need to avoid: Not standing when he or she enters the room, not shaking his or her hand, and not looking him or her in the eye. Each action is disrespectful, and if you are not respectful to your interviewers, they’ll assume you won’t be respectful to your future clients.

How to Fix It: Make it a practice when you are meeting anyone for the first time: Stand, shake the person’s hand, and make eye contact. If it’s habit for you, then you won’t even have to think about it when the time comes.

2. Bad Posture
Bad posture during an interview can give the impression that you are lazy or disrespectful. Reclining might tell the interviewer that you are bored or cocky. Slouching forward gives an impression of nervousness. If you are constantly shifting from one position to another, it shows that you are uncomfortable, which in turn can make the interviewer uncomfortable.

How to Fix It: Relax against the back of your chair. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor, and engage your core. Avoid sitting up too straight, as that can also make you look uncomfortable. It may sound crazy, but practice sitting at home and see how long you can hold a comfortable position without too much shifting around.

3. Too Many Long Pauses
Problem: Thinking through your answers is always a good idea, but if it takes you longer than ten seconds to start talking, you’ve passed the point of being comfortable. Taking too long to consider a question could imply that you’re mentally slow or aren’t able to handle stressful situations. You need to show that you can roll with the punches.

How to Fix It: Even if you don’t have a solid answer formulated in your head, begin with what you do know and expand on it. Once you start, talking can lead to other ideas. Just be careful not to resort to thinking out loud. Slow your speech so that you have a few seconds in between thoughts to consider ideas before you articulate them.

4. Cutting Off the Interviewer
Problem: Showing eagerness and excitement is one thing, but if you are cutting off the interviewer before she has the chance to get the question out, you can come across as rude, as well as incapable of listening. In addition, you may end up answering what you thought the question was, instead of the real question.

How to Fix It: Make sure you are actively listening to each question. Keep your speech patterns slow. Always wait for your interviewer to finish asking a question, and then think for five seconds before you answer. This will guarantee that you’ve heard the question and give you time to structure a well-thought-out answer.

5. Yawning or Falling Asleep
Problem: It doesn’t matter if you were up until 3 a.m. researching the company–if you yawn during an interview, it shows that you aren’t taking it seriously. A yawn can say a lot: that you’re a party animal who doesn’t get enough sleep, that you don’t know proper time management, or that you’re simply bored with the entire interview process.

How to Fix It: First and most importantly, make sure you get a full night of sleep before the interview. Have some caffeine before the interview, but not too much. Do some yoga. Stretch in the bathroom. Take a quick walk around the block. Anything you can do to get the blood flowing will not only wake you up but also help with your response time to questions.

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