Exams, degrees, internships, CVs... And then everything comes down to the job interview.
So it's vital that a job seeker doesn't throw away all their hard work on an easily-avoidable error that could jeopardise their job application.
Most interview features / advisory listicles will provide tips on how to behave, how to excel and what to do to make a good impression.
That's why new research from career site CareerBuilder regarding interview technique is a great guide on what not to do.
Based on the research from the survey, which questioned around 2,600 hiring managers / HR departments, indy100 has compiled a handy list of top interview mistakes...
Lack of confidence and poor preparation can lead to insecure body language, which in turn does not inspire confidence in the employer.
According to Rosemary Haefner, chief HR officer for CareerBuilder: "If you don't read about the company and research your role thoroughly, you could magnify your fear of interviewing poorly and lose the opportunity".
The research suggests that two thirds of hiring managers wouldn't hire someone who was caught lying about something.
Remember: There's a fine line between mildly massaging the importance of your role on a particular project, and misleading exaggerations that border on deceit.
3. Using your phone
64 per cent of the hirers polled said that they would decide against hiring someone if they answered a call, sent a text or looked at their smart phone during an interview.
It's also considered highly unprofessional for a phone to ring during an interview situation, except in emergencies - make sure that it is on silent or vibrate.
4. Appearing arrogant
While confidence is vital for professional success, and interviewers respond to assertive candidates, it's important never to appear arrogant or entitled.
59 per cent of the respondents admitted that this would be a deal-breaker for hiring the candidate.
5. Dressing inappropriately
While it's not always fitting to arrive at an interview in the most formal attire, particularly if the job itself requires a specific uniform or style, nevertheless it's important to look smart, clean and presentable.
Almost half of all the hiring executives and HR professionals admitted that inappropriate outfits would disqualify an otherwise positive candidate.
6. Being late
Not only is lateness unprofessional and demonstrable of lack of organisation / punctuality, it's also incredibly rude.
Most employers will not take kindly to being kept waiting without a very good reason.
7. Lack of eye contact
Almost 70 per cent of those surveyed mentioned failure to make eye contact as a serious black mark against the interviewee.
While you wouldn't want to unnerve people by excessive staring, it's nevertheless important to appear sincere and confident by maintaining good amounts of eye contact.
No employer expects an interviewee to remain stock still.
Nevertheless, 32 per cent of hirers disliked fidgeting in seats, 28 per cent objected to interviewees fiddling with their hair or face, and 34 per cent were irritated by candidates playing with an item on the table.
9. Bad body language
Crossing your arms over your chest was cited by 32 per cent of respondents as offputting in a candidate.
Similarly, bad posture, excessive gesturing and handshakes that are too weak / strong were all described as classic interview mistakes.
10. Failure to smile
While it's important to maintain an air of professionalism and to appear to take the interview seriously, it's also good to appear positive and approachable.
Almost 40 per cent of the employers pointed out that a failure to smile could mean a failure to pass the interview.