Getting a call back for an interview is pretty hard to come by in the current job market and you don’t want to blow your opportunity to stand out from your competitors.

Nomawabo May, a team leader for the student advisory department at Oxbridge Academy, shares the cardinal interview sins that could sink your chances of landing the job.

“Knowing what you want to say and how you are going to say it will take the sting out of the stress and allow your personality to shine through. Ultimately, people want to appoint people they think will be a pleasure to work with. Handling your interview with confidence and good humour is sure to make you stand out from the crowd,” she says.

Arriving unprepared

The purpose of an interview, in essence, is to determine which prospective candidate represents the best fit for the organisation.

The best way to demonstrate this is by doing thorough research into the company and position for which you are applying.

READ MORE: How to ace your next job interview

“Doing your research beforehand about the job requirements the company and how your qualifications and experience will match its needs will give you the confidence to shine under pressure,” says May.

Arriving late or flustered

 Nothing says: “I’m uninterested” more than not pitching up on time.  

Make sure you make adequate provisions for any possible delays en route.

“Plan to get there with at least an hour to spare, which will allow you to calm your nerves and focus your thoughts before meeting your interviewers,” she advises. 

Dressing inappropriately

Create the right first impression by taking care in what you choose to wear to the interview. The interview stage is not the best time to showcase your personality.

“Don’t let your clothing, makeup, tattoos or piercings shout louder than what you are able to bring to the company and the position,” May says.

Letting negativity overshadow your ability

Never speak negatively about your previous employer, no matter how badly they may have treated you. May says that any negativity demonstrated during the interview could be perceived as your general approach to life and work and it has the potential to turn a prospective employer off you.

READ MORE: 4 questions you should be asking your job interviewer

“Even if you had a really bad experience with your previous position or boss, try to find the positives and highlight these. Also, don’t take the bait to spill on your previous company, which could well be a competitor of the one at which are interviewing. Demonstrate that you can maintain confidentiality and remain ethical, and that you can be trusted,” says May.

Embellishing qualifications or experience

If there are any gaps in your employment journey, you need to be prepared to explain them and resist the temptation to lie.

“Few people have a spotless past with no wobbles. Be honest and positive about what happened and what you have learnt, and how you have grown since. Most importantly, do not claim to have qualifications or experience that you don’t. If you are still completing a course, say so. Don’t pretend to already have done so, for instance.”

Not switching off your phone and general manners

It’s advisable to switch your phone off completely ahead of the interview. This will eliminate the urge to take a peek at incoming messages or check the time.

“Candidates should ensure they put their phones on silent or even better, switch them off during the interview,” May says.

If you are offered something to drink, consider settling for a glass of water.

“Having to fumble with a coffee cup, sugar and milk, or eating snacks that have been placed out adds extra stress. Spills and crumbs detract from focus,” she warns. 

Forgetting to let your personality shine through 

“It is important to prepare what you will say to demonstrate that you are able to handle challenges, conflict in the workplace, stress and pressure,” says May.

“You need to prepare examples of how your soft skills have come to the fore in the past, to demonstrate that you will be a welcome addition on top of what you bring in terms of skills and experience.”