The interview is the make or break stage of a person’s job search. At this point, a person has found the job online, sent in a resume, survived a phone screening and has been invited in for an in-person interview. Your performance during this critical phase will likely play a large role in whether you get the job or not. While you can’t ensure that you will always knock your interviews out of the park, you can always be sure that you don’t kill your chances by making these critical interview mistakes.

1. Inappropriate Clothing: As a general rule of thumb, you should be dressed to impress at a job interview. This applies even if you are interviewing at a place that does not require employees to dress up. Sweats, yoga pants, t-shirts and clothing that is too revealing are all inappropriate. There’s almost no way you could ever be overdressed, so when in doubt, always get dressed up.

2. Showing Up Late: If you show up late to your interview, it can only be assumed that you will show up late to work. Running late shows that you have poor time management skills and indicates an overall lack of respect. You want to show up to your interview approximately 10-15 minutes early. Be sure to allow yourself extra time to account for traffic, finding parking and potentially getting lost.

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3. Being Unprepared: With the amount of information available online, it’s inexcusable for a person to be unknowledgeable about the company where he or she is interviewing. How can you tell them why they need you if you are unsure about what it is they do, what their mission statement is and what values are important to them? Don’t just wing it. Do your homework.

4. Bashing Your Former Employer: It’s important to remain professional at all times. Trashing your last job during an interview is not a great way to look professional. Instead, it looks petty. Even if you hated your last job, take the high road and keep your frustrations to yourself. You can be honest when they ask you why you left, but keep it professional.

5. Negative Body Language: Employers are consciously and unconsciously reading your body language signals from the time they first meet you. A weak handshake, avoiding eye-contact and not smiling are negative body language signals that will potentially turn off employers. Make sure you smile, sit up straight, give a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.

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6. No Questions for the Employer: No questions = no interest and may indicate that you haven’t done much research on the company. Similarly, asking the wrong questions may also send the wrong message. Your questions should not focus on how often you get raises, when you can take vacation or how many sick days you’re allowed. They should be about the nature of the position, what an average day will be like and who you will be working with. Have a list of questions ready before you get to the interview.

7. Not Ready to Answer Questions: You can’t expect that every question an interviewer asks you will be directly related to your skills and experience. Employers will ask you a wide range of questions related to your personality, your goals, your style of thinking and much more. “I don’t know” is never an acceptable answer during an interview, so be sure to mentally prepare answers for any type of question.

8. Unsure About Resume Facts: Your resume is just a short synopsis of your professional career. There should be no reason why you don’t have the details committed to memory. If an interviewer is asking you questions related to your resume and you aren’t sure of the answer, it will make it seem as though the information on your resume is embellished, if not completely made up.

9. Using Your Phone: As a general rule, your best bet is to either leave your cellphone in your car during an interview or turn it completely off. You don’t want phone calls or texts to interrupt your interview and you should not be sitting around browsing through your phone before or during an interview.

10. No Follow Up: A good way to stay top of mind with an employer after an interview is to send a follow up email or letter thanking the interviewer for his or her time and expressing your continued interest in the position. Since not everyone sends follow ups, it will help you separate yourself from the competition and may even serve as a tiebreaker.

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It’s important to put your best foot forward at a job interview. Your livelihood and ability to care for yourself and your family may rest with your interview performance. Be sure to put yourself in the best position to succeed by avoiding these common interview pitfalls. If you’ve been struggling to find work, however, TPG Staffing can help. We work with dozens of employers around the country to fill temporary, permanent and high level positions in virtually every type of business. We would love to hear from you and match your skills and experience with one of our employers. Contact us today at 732-246-7100 to schedule an interview.