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This is the single worst thing you can do in a job interview

It’ll be difficult to put out this particular fire. Image: Getty

New year, new you, new… job?

If that’s the case then you may have a few job interviews on the horizon.

For some people interview success comes naturally, but for many it’s a nerve-wracking experience that requires a lot of preparation.

Preparing your elevator pitch, researching the company and knowing the best questions to ask will all increase your chances of success.

But according to Seek’s group human services director, Kathleen McCudden, there’s one mistake you should avoid making at all costs, and it’s not being late.

What is it?

“There’s nothing worse than when you’re conducting an interview, asking someone a question and you feel like they’re either not listening or they’re responding with an answer which you think is unrelated to what you’ve asked,” she told Yahoo Finance.

“It’s very important to listen,” she continued, explaining that even if you’re hit with a curve-ball, it’s fine to take a moment to pause and gather your thoughts.

“Actually spend a little bit of time saying, ‘That’s a good question, let me think about that,’ to allow yourself a little bit of time to respond,” she advised.

So how do I improve my active listening skills?

Stopping talking is a good start, according to Forbes’ Coaches Council.

You should also stay focused and focus on why you’re curious about their question. Breathing deeply and slowly will also help calm your mind and in turn improve your listening.

If you keep tabs on where your mind is you’ll also find it easier to stop it from wandering off track.

Maintaining eye contact will also force you to stay focused on what they’re saying. Picturing what they’re saying may also help you stay focused and on track to delivering a strong answer.

Importantly, don’t interrupt. Wait until they’ve paused to begin contemplating and answering the question.

What else should I avoid in my interview?

Being late is a no-brainer.

In fact, McCudden says all aspects of the first 30-60 seconds of meeting someone are critical.

“I always suggest to people that they should smile and make eye contact when they first meet the people that are interviewing them because it’s their opportunity to build a rapport and connect in that first initial stage. I think that’s really important.”

You should also remember that an interview is more than just answering questions.

“The other mistake that sometimes people make is they think that interviewing is all about talking and it’s not. An interview process should be a two-way dialogue and it should be listening as well as talking and responding to questions.”

Posing your own questions is another critical factor.

McCudden suggested asking about the culture of the workplaces and the challenges the company is facing if you’re stuck. However interviewees should steer clear from questions about pay and hours in the early interviews, as these can be too granular and send the wrong impression.

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