5 Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Interviews: A Guide for International Professionals and Students

Whether you’re an international student or a professional seeking a prestigious job, one common hurdle stands in your way: the interview. In this critical phase, you want to give your best to move on to the next round or get that much-anticipated confirmation call. 

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, you may have shortcomings that can cost you the opportunity. But there’s nothing to worry about—being aware of bad interview habits can help you avoid them.

5 Bad Interview Habits

Here are the top 5 bad interview habits that you should steer clear of to boost your chances of success!

Talking Excessively 

Most job seekers fail in the interview stage for one big reason: talking too much. You may think an interview is all about speaking, but it’s also a test of your listening skills. Talking excessively can annoy the interviewer and cause them to become less engaged. 

Even worse, if your answers aren’t precise and you just keep rambling, you’ve done irreparable damage. Pauline Phillips, who created the Dear Abby column, says

“The more you talk, the less you are listened to.” 

Therefore, during the interview, remember to be concise. The interviewer will be assessing your ability to communicate clearly so try not to ramble. Listening attentively is also advisable. 

Tips to Overcome This Challenge 

Here are some tips that help you in overcoming these bad habits that give the wrong impression:

  • Practice STAR: Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses. This technique ensures your answers are relevant and concise. 
  • Prepare Well: Try role-playing before the final interview to become proficient in answering questions directly. Especially if English isn’t your first language, practice continuously to make your tone more professional and less hesitant. Apply for jobs you aren’t necessarily interested in just so you can practice. And remember that every job description is different so customize your answers.
  • Don’t Try to Fill the Void: Interviewers often take pauses between questions. Don’t perceive these as indications of a mistake or feel the need to fill the silence with continuous explanations. Simply answer the question concisely and ask, “Is there something you want to know more about?”

Giving Generic Responses 

Another bad interview habit is giving generic responses. You need to understand that questions are designed to assess your skills and how you can contribute to a specific company or institution with specific pain points and challenges. 

Giving vague answers not only fails to present you in the best light but can also frustrate interviewers, leading to failure to secure a job or position. They’re looking for someone who understands their challenges in depth and can solve their problems. Generic answers won’t help you do this.

Tips to Overcome this Challenge

The following are some pro tips that make sure you don’t lose a precious opportunity due to the bad habit of giving generic responses:

  • Be More Specific: Clearly define your skills and abilities and how to make a difference based on the job description and on your research. Don’t assume the interviewer will understand indirect communication. Considering that the US has a low context culture, the indirect approach simply won’t work. 
  • Highlight Your Achievements: You should alway focus on mentioning measurable outcomes and achievements from your past experiences, aligning them with what you know about the role. 

For instance, the interviewer may ask, “Can you describe a scenario when you had to resolve a conflict within your team?” If you give a generic response like, “I am good at resolving conflicts and always maintain a positive attitude,” it doesn’t provide enough information about your role and expertise. 

Instead, a more effective approach would be to quote a specific example, such as, “In my previous role, there was a serious disagreement between two team members over project responsibilities. I scheduled a group meeting to facilitate communication between both parties and mediate a compromise. As a result, we completed the project under budget and ahead of schedule.” This shows that you are good at problem-solving and also possess leadership skills. 

Not Preparing for the Interview 

It’s one of the most common bad interview habits that many students and professionals adopt when applying to international forums and roles. You might consider the interview phase to be straightforward, but it’s not. You’ll face questions on specific points, and inadequate preparation can lead to confusion, excessive talking, and even rambling. 

This can damage your ability to make a lasting first impression, and you will likely lose the opportunity at hand. A recent report from Ringover also reveals that 30.7% of surveyed people say that improper research of the company before appearing for the interview gives off negative vibes. 

Tips to Overcome This Challenge 

Make sure you follow the given tips for good preparation for the interview stage:

  • Consult Industry Sources: If you really want to secure a job in an international firm, you should stay updated with industry news, trends, and developments to show your commitment to the field. 
  • Check Company Profile: You should also carefully analyze the company’s profile, its website, social media, products and services, business culture and what it looks like before the interview and starting the new job

Showing Disinterest

Appearing in interviews tired, late, or with a bored expression is a big no! Why? Well, the tiredness, lack of interest, and inattention to interviewers’ questions make them go off. These things are obvious but you also need to show enthusiasm and express it directly. If they believe that you aren’t really interested in the role, you won’t secure the much-needed opportunity. 

Tips to Overcome This Challenge 

The following are some valuable tips that you should follow to overcome these bad interview habits: 

  • Be Attentive: During the interview, focus on understanding the interviewers’ questions clearly. Pay attention to their cues, and if you don’t understand anything, ask questions in a humble tone to demonstrate your engagement and interest. 
  • Get Proper Rest Before Heading for an Interview: Another way to avoid being tired during the interview is to get enough rest, such as good sleep and a proper diet. 
  • Express your Enthusiasm verbally. It might not seem obvious to you but the US is a culture where direct expression of emotion is expected.

Only Discussing Your Needs 

One common mistake, which is also among the bad interview habits that almost every interviewee makes, is only discussing your own needs during the interview. For instance, you may go on to share the workspace environment you look forward to and the perks you want to enjoy from the job. 

While all these things come out of excitement, they can put off the interviewer. They may perceive you as someone more focused on what you can gain rather than what you can contribute to the organization. It’s not about you; it’s about them. You are there to help them solve their business challenges. If your career goals align with that, great! If not, figure out how they do.

Tips to Overcome This Challenge 

Follow these tips, and you are good to go:

  • Clearly Mention Contributions: You should be very transparent about what you bring to the table. During the interview, you must highlight your achievements, relevant experiences, and values that will contribute to the company’s success. 

For instance, if you are proficient in data analysis or have expertise in software development, you should explain how these skills can contribute to organizational efficiency and innovation.

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