The worst interview pitfall you can fall into is rambling on with no clear focus. This will usually happen if an interviewer throws a difficult question at you, such as, “What’s your greatest weakness?” For fear of not revealing too much, candidates might lose focus and even become incoherent. The best weapon against this is to plan ahead of time.
Be aware that questions like “What’s your greatest weakness” are going to be asked. Other questions, like “What makes you special” will also be asked. If you don’t have a quick and concise answer to this more positive-edged question, it can look as bad as a rambling answer about your weaknesses.
Articulation is key to a good interview. You must answer questions in clear, complete sentences, while making firm eye contact. You want to keep your interviewer’s focus so don’t talk for too long. At the same time, you don’t want your answers to be clipped and uninformative. For this reason, it’s a good idea to write out answers to common questions beforehand. Next, recite these answers out loud and cut out any superfluous information.
All the preparation in the world will not matter if you are not relaxed. You could have practiced your answers for hours as if practicing for a play but this will not matter if you fold under pressure. Before your interview, take some deep breaths. Be sure to eat well beforehand and have some water on hand during the interview, if it is offered.
Most of all, believe in yourself. Even if you don’t have a long work history, you have something to offer a company that no one else does. Determine what this is and let it be known. Everyone has something to offer—so long as you believe in yourself, you will be much less prone to being flustered during an interview.
Candidates with a less-than-full work history might be inspired to embellish a little bit. Interviewers can see through this. At worst, this can appear like a candidate is lying, so this is something to stay away from. There are ways to spin your work history—even if it is just college courses—without being dishonest about what you’ve done. Many interviewers prize forthrightness and honesty. These can be a real asset even if your resume is a little slim.
However, it is also important to read the tendencies of your interviewer. Some interviewers may respond very well to a certain kind of embellishment. Supposing, for instance, that you were applying for a sales position. If you sell yourself in a certain way, this can be a good reflection on your capabilities as a salesman. In other interviews, this tactic might not be nearly as effective.
Be ready for anything: some interviewers may ask obscure questions to see how a candidate thinks on his or her feet. The question might have no right answer, they are only designed to see how fast the candidate reacts and if he or she gives a unique answer. If you’re not prepared for left-field questions, you might be thrown for a loop. You might not be able to prepare answers for such a question, but you can at least be aware that they might come up.