It’s finally here, the day you have been eagerly waiting for, the job that you have been actively looking for is open and you’re ready to land it. You’re excited at the prospect of what it might bring, but also nervous. After all, this could be a brand-new opportunity for the greatest move of your career.
It is those anxieties that can lead to people to find themselves unprepared for the interview. For many, the interview experience is daunting. Focused and determined to interview well, only to have things not turn out as planned. From either being silent when they should speak up, or being too talkative when they should be listening, to not negotiating harder in the offer stage for fear of being labeled “difficult or “pushy,” they end up losing out. The interview process is often seen as incredibly stressful, with a large number of candidates reporting feeling frustrated that they didn’t present themselves as well as they could have done or failed to negotiate harder, when it came down to the offer.
Much has been written about the mistakes that candidates make in the interview process, but there is a way to not fall foul and lose out. To stop this trend, we must be armed with information. Here are some of the most common interview mistakes and how to avoid them:
Common Pre-Interview Mistakes
Mistake #1 - A weak resume
• Downplaying your key accomplishments and skills;
• Gaps in work history;
• Outlines every detailed duty of your previous and/or current job description.
Strengthen your resume:
• Highlight your top accomplishments with metrics attached (saved money, exceeded goal, early promotions, etc.) and tailor those successes to address the job description of the position you seek.
• Highlight skills gained during a gap in work history. It’s common these days for men and women to take a career break, so don’t miss out by skipping this part of your work history.
Mistake #2 - Lack of preparation:
• You don’t do your homework about the company, the role, and/or the questions that may be asked.
Go to the interview prepared:
• Research the company history.
• Read all recent news reports dating back to at least the past six months.
• Read the job description provided by the recruiter.
• Ask your recruiter for any interview tips or information on who you will be interviewing.
Now it’s time to talk about the interview itself. Go in confident, prepared, and with goals in mind:
Common Interviewing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Mistake #1 - Underselling yourself:
• Overcompensating for being viewed as “too pushy” or” arrogant “by being underwhelming;
• Viewing the interview as a social conversation rather than a sales pitch, which fails to demonstrate command and professionalism.
Sell yourself well:
• Engage in a pleasant but confident manner.
• Focus on highlighting your strengths and address shortcomings as growth opportunities.
Mistake #2 - Nervous talking:
• Filling in the open space in an interview by over-talking out of nervousness.
Remain in control:
• Don’t share more than necessary. Focus on the question at hand and take your cue from the interviewer. If you feel yourself rambling, pause and then aim to conclude your point quickly.
Mistake #3 - Appearing disinterested or disengaged:
• Constantly breaking eye contact, mumbling responses, and/or appearing aloof or dispassionate can broadcast insecurity or a lack of interest.
• Make sure you focus on creating a great impression throughout the interview.
When the interview is over, you may feel like the deal is sealed, but nothing is over until the paperwork is signed. Stay focused on the final tasks to negotiation your best starting package:
Common Negotiating Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Mistake #1 - No proactive follow-up:
• Assuming you should wait to hear from the company leaves others free to communicate in your absence. Never assume the company should make all the moves.
Remain top of mind:
• Follow up with thank you notes (hand-written are best) to the people involved in the interview process. Be sure to acknowledge the individual who helped organize and schedule as well.
• Weekly follow up with your recruiter is expected.
Mistake #2 - Negotiating poorly:
• Many people under-estimate their total package worth and/or accept any package offered for fear of it being rescinded due to a negative perception of their character.
Go in strong:
• Know your total compensation number currently and what you need for the immediate future to position yourself comfortably.
• Don’t appear overly eager to accept whatever is being offered.
• Back up your number with facts so you can negotiate from a position of strength.
Landing the perfect job may not be as hard as you think. Follow these practical tips and your chances of a successful outcome are greatly enhanced.