How to Avoid the Most Awkward Interview Mistakes for Good

Jillian Knox Finley

Job interviews can be a tricky enterprise. The very idea of selling oneself to complete strangers triggers anxiety and stress in most people, the reality of which can yield some impromptu moves. If you’re worried about making a rookie mistake or fumbling on the spot, the good people of Forbes are here to help. They’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of the most common interview pitfalls and mistakes with corresponding advice on how to bounce back. It’s sage advice and plain, good business. Here are a few of our favorite highlights:

Trash-Talking Your Former Employer

The temptation to speak ill of a previous boss or place of employ is often served up on a silver platter in the process of looking for new work. If you left your last gig on less-than-savory terms, keep it to yourself. You want to reflect positivity and solution-oriented leadership in the room. If you do discover you've let a jab or two slip out regarding a co-worker or woeful project, take a moment to rephrase. This can be as simple as saying, “I didn’t mean to take the story there. What I mean to says is…” Compensate with a positive spin emphasizing tangible results you created out of a challenging situation. When prepping for your next interview, come up with a few stories to have on tap.

Forgetting a Keyword

Nerves can put your brain’s propensity for total recall squarely on the fritz. You may discover you’ve mispronounced a name or keyword or flat-out drawn a blank. If this occurs, do not improvise by making something up. Instead, just own it. Be honest and move on. You might say something like, “Sorry, I’m completely blanking on the name of that app—which is crazy because I work on it every day. But what’s more important than the name is that it helped us hit our quarterly goals faster than ever.” By pivoting to what’s important, you redirect the conversation to an empowering place. Bottom line: Make your point without the name. Another helpful tip: Make a cheat sheet of relevant keywords on your phone to review before you walk into the room.

Being Thrown a Curveball Question

Regardless of your due diligence, all the preparation in the world won’t guarantee a smooth answer to every question that may arise in an interview. If you find yourself stumped or thrown off by a line of inquiry, simply ask for a moment to consider your response. Take your time. You might say, “That’s a great question—let me think about it” or “Do you mind if I take a second to think that through?” Remain poised and deliver a composed answer that is a worthy reflection of your abilities. Don’t get hung up on throwing out fast comments off the cuff. If anything, pausing to gather your thoughts effectively shows thoughtfulness and deliberation.

To see the full list of common mistakes and quick fixes, head over to Forbes.

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