Most likely you won't meet your interviewer until the day of the interview, but they're already forming an opinion about you. No matter how professional you appear in person, you need to convey that professionalism in every communication with a potential employer, whether spoken or written.
When you're speaking with them over the phone, conduct the conversation like you would in a job interview. When you send emails, make sure your spelling and punctuation are flawless, and keep your tone professional. Otherwise, you'll appear unpolished and sloppy before you and your interviewer have had the chance to meet.
Poor social media presence
An interviewer's job is to evaluate candidates, and they do this every step of the way ‒ not just from your spoken and written communication, but from your online presence as well.
It's a cliché by now, but it's still very true: The world is more connected than ever before. With just a quick internet search, your entire life can be at an interviewer's fingertips ‒ and according to a YouGov poll, as many as one in five employers have turned down a candidate based on a social media screening.
In a way, your social media presence is just another form of communication about yourself. What you post online says a lot about you, and as with any form of communication, there are some common mistakes to avoid.
Controversial political posts
No matter how important an issue or how close it is to your heart, there's a time and a place for everything. Controversy can cause divisions, strain relationships and make people feel uncomfortable ‒ the opposite of what a potential employer wants in a workplace.
You want your social media presence to show that you are someone who can work well with others and fit in well with a team, so it's best to keep these controversial conversations private. If you must, make sure you understand your privacy settings and have them set appropriately ‒ or perhaps consider going anonymous so as to not taint your candidacy.
Sharing photos of wild parties and irresponsible behaviour
Interviewers will want to know how reliable and responsible you are, so before you share a pic of how hard you partied on Friday, think: Would you show this image in a job interview? Would you put this photo on your desk at work?
Of course, the answer is 'no'. If you wouldn't want an employer, or a potential employer, to see it, don't show the world by putting it online.
Complaining about a past or current job
The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is that you're a difficult employee who causes problems, and if they see a rant about your former (or current!) employer then that's exactly what they'll think. Trashing your workplace online is a surefire way to turn off any interviewer ‒ and besides, it's just not a good look.
Inappropriate profile pictures
Communicating a professional image isn't just about what you say and how you say it, but also in how you present yourself. Whether it's your Gmail account or a social media profile, your profile picture says a lot about you.
'Appropriate' is the name of the game ‒ choose a well-lit image of yourself, dressed professionally. After all, this is the face you're showing whenever you send an email or when a potential employer conducts searches for you online.