How to Nail a Job Interview and Avoid Embarrassing First Impressions

Most employees make a decision about whether the applicant is a good fit for the position in the first 15 minutes of the interview

Job interviews can be intimidating. 

Employers maintain that an applicant's performance in the interview often decides whether or not they get the job.

According to a survey by employment site CareerBuilder, almost half of employers say they know within the first five minutes of a interview if the applicant is a good fit. After 15 minutes, nearly 90 percent of employers have made their judgment.

In order to better your chances of getting the job, try to avoid making the most common mistakes in those crucial first minutes.

The most common body language mistakes during interviews include failing to make eye contact, playing with something on the table, having bad posture, fidgeting too much and crossing your arms over your chest, according to employers who participated in the survey.

Other mistakes include coming off too strong or too weak. For example, employers cited both weak handshakes and handshakes that were too strong as mistakes.

While it's important to stand out in a pool of applicants with similar backgrounds, interviewees should also be careful not to overdo it. Some employers in the survey recalled stories about applicants who exhibited unusual behavior and left a bad impression as a result.

One employer said a candidate introduced himself by name, but then followed it up with, "But you can call me Tigger! That is the nickname I gave myself." Another brought 50 ink pens to the interview and then proceeded to spread them out on the table.

One interviewer said a candidate tried to Google the answer to a question while another sat in a yoga pose during the interview.

"Acing the job interview isn't just about what you say in response to the interviewer's questions," Rosemary Haefner, the vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, said. "It's also about what your body language says about you. Employers are looking for those non-verbal cues to indicate a candidate's level of professionalism and if they will be the right fit for the position."

To ensure a good first impression and a successful interview, Haefner provided five key tips: 

1. Rehearse: Practice your interview skills with friends or family members and have them give you feedback on your body language during the mock interview.

2. Record yourself practicing: Watching yourself during an interview can help you see any mistakes you might be making.

3. Have your "elevator pitch" ready: The "elevator pitch" can be the perfect answer when employers ask you to tell them about yourself. Be ready to back up the claims you make with examples and experience.

4. Do your homework on the company and the person interviewing you: Research the company ahead of time and come prepared with questions for the interviewer.

5. Remember to breathe: Taking a few deep breaths before the interview can help manage the anxiety that leads to fidgeting and nervous behaviors.

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