Once you get a job, you’ll be judged on your total output. Your bosses will see what you can do day in and day out.

However, to land the position, you must perform well in a single brief, awkward conversation. It’s not a particularly fair system. But, unfortunately, it’s an almost universal practice. To get a job, eventually you have to nail an interview.

It’s a make-or-break moment. Athletes have the big game. Stage actors have opening night. For the rest of us, we have job interviews.

Going into one of these potentially terror-inducing meetings, the first thing you want to do is avoid mistakes. Here are three major errors you should sidestep at your next interview.

Mistake 1: Being Unprepared

Have all the materials necessary for the interview. This includes copies of your resume and a portfolio with work samples, if necessary. Also, bring a pen and a pad of paper to take notes and keep your thoughts straight.

It might seem old-fashioned in our digital age to walk in with so much paper, but there is a logic to it. The resumes and work samples give you a kind of ice breaker, something to pass around early in the proceedings when things are most awkward. Meanwhile, taking notes on a phone can be misinterpreted…people tend to assume you are texting. A paper and pen avoids any confusion.

Proper preparation also includes dressing the part. Find out the company’s dress code and pick your outfit accordingly. Show up on time, looking your best and with everything you need to succeed. Do all of that, and you will at least pass the first-impression test.

Mistake 2: Not Making a Connection

If a list of qualifications and accomplishments was sufficient for getting a job, interviews wouldn’t be necessary. In that case, employers would just hire based on resumes.

But skills and experience aren’t enough. Any business success requires a host of softer abilities: Communication, leadership and teamwork (to name the biggest ones).

The interview provides your chance to show off these interpersonal skills. Take the opportunity. Don’t just repeat your accomplishments and turn the meeting into a live resume recitation.

Try to engage your interviewers…encourage back-and-forth interactions. Tell personal stories. Make them smile. By building a personal connection, you make yourself more memorable and increase your chances of landing the position.

Mistake 3: Coming With Baggage

Make sure your head is clear going into an interview. Switching jobs can be stressful, and your departure from your previous position might not have happened under the best of circumstances. But don’t let any lingering bad feelings from your past job impact your ability to get a new one.

Don’t start bad mouthing your old boss and don’t use the interview to litigate old grudges.

Instead, keep the tone upbeat and positive. As far as your potential new bosses are concerned, everything that has happened to you has been a wonderful learning experience that has brought you to the point where you can apply for this current opportunity (which, by the way, you are excited and energized at the prospect of pursuing).

You can be seething about old grudges on the inside. But on the outside, project confidence and good vibes.

Performing well at an interview gets easier when you are genuinely excited by the opportunity. It makes the good vibes and personal connections much easier to accomplish. A high-level staffing firm, like PrideStaff, can provide these perfect situations.

Contact PrideStaff Bend today to learn more.

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