Interviews are stressful, probably the most stressful part of the job search process, so it's understandable to want to get as much advice about them as possible. However, some interview advice that seems helpful on the surface can ultimately hurt rather than help you. Here are three common interview tips to beware of.
1. Show up early.
It's fine to show up five minutes early for your interview. But showing up 15 minutes early is not fine. The reason is it will make you appear overly eager, perhaps desperate, as opposed to punctual and enthusiastic.
Keep in mind that if you arrive 15 minutes early for your interview, you'll likely have to sit in the lobby for 15 minutes. This means that you might start to get nervous, thinking about the interview, whereas if you were just walking around outside, you might be a little less calm, your head a little clearer.
Further, your interviewer is likely a very busy person, and when you arrive too early and your interviewer is notified that you've arrived, your interviewer is likely in the middle of doing something else. And your very early arrival might interrupt that something, which could get your interview off to a bad start before it even starts.
Of course, it's extremely important to be on time for your interview, but when it comes to interviewing, the very early bird does not get the worm.
2. Ask questions about your interviewer's experiences.
You've probably heard many an interview-tipper telling you to ask your interviewers about themselves, to get them talking since everybody loves to talk about themselves. While it's true people like to talk about themselves, interviewers have likely interviewed hundreds of people in their careers, and they know all too well about this tip and these types of questions, which can often come off as insincere and pat.
Remember, interviewers are busy; they have a ton to do. And they're taking time out of their busy schedules to see if you might be a good candidate for their firm. This means they don't want to waste too much of their valuable time talking about themselves. They want to know about you, to test you, to hear about you.
So, while it's a good idea to ask questions of your interviewers, make sure all of your questions are sincere, and make them a part of the conversation you've been having. That is, ask questions as they come to you, and about what's been discussed. Asking too many questions about your interviewer's experiences out of the blue could very well kill, rather than help, your candidacy.
3. Mirror your interviewer's body language.
Although certain interview-tippers will point to certain psychological studies as proof that mirroring your interviewer's body language works, it's going to be in your best interest to tread carefully here. If you're thinking about when to lean forward, lean back, speak with your hands, nod, fold your arms, uncross your arms, etc., while you're being interviewed, there's a very good chance you won't be answering questions as best you can.
So, instead of focusing on mirroring your interviewer, try focusing on yourself. Of course, body language is important, but you really only need to do two things with your body during an interview: 1) sit up straight, and 2) don't cross your arms or legs.
If you just remember these two things and follow them, you'll come across as professional and open, and you'll be able to spend your energy on the most important part of your interview: what comes out of your mouth in response to your interviewer's questions.