Job interviews can be stressful, especially if you’re nervous about making mistakes that could sabotage your chance of getting the job. Fortunately, many errors are easy to avoid with a little preparation. Here are four of the most common ones and some tips for steering clear of them.
1. Getting Too Personal
One common error is revealing too much personal information during the interview, says Anastasia Kurylo of Fortified Communication Consulting. “I have conducted interviews in which candidates inundate me with their personal life story,” she says. “Voluntarily revealing this much personal information can make an interviewer uncomfortable and raise legitimate concerns about how confidential the candidate will be with company information.”
Takeaway: When answering interview questions, it’s best to stick to work-related answers.
2. Not Picking Up on Cues
Another common mistake is not following the interviewer’s lead in the conversation. Kurylo says she once had a student who wore a business suit to the interview for a fun and casual job. The interviewer made several comments about it, questioning the candidate’s understanding of the company culture.
“The candidate assumed she’d blown the interview the moment she put on the suit,” Kurylo says. “The interview had been blown by the candidate not providing a good response about her choice of clothing. The interviewer repeatedly told her how much she loved the candidate’s credentials and experience.”
Instead, the candidate could have laughed off her clothing choice and blamed it on advice that went against her own judgment; something she wouldn’t do again. “Then the interviewer -- who clearly wanted to hire her -- would have had more to latch onto in order to excuse the poor clothing choice. If she had persevered rather than given up in the interview, they might have been laughing about the suit over a business lunch weeks later.”
Takeaway: When the interviewer gives you an opportunity to course-correct, take it.
3. Not Doing Your Homework
Many candidates continue to make the mistake of not researching the company before the interview. “Hiring managers want to know that interviewees are interested in their open positions, not simply that the interviewees want a job, any job,” says Cheryl Palmer, owner of Call to Career. Candidates who can speak knowledgeably about the company and how they can contribute to the organization’s success show that they’ve done their homework and have a high interest in the business.
Takeaway: Take advantage of any resources (online and offline) you can get your hands on to learn about the company’s mission and culture.
4. Not Taking Initiative
Stu Coleman, partner and senior general manager at WinterWyman, says another common mistake is taking too passive of a role. “It’s important to determine, for both parties, if what each has to bring to the equation is a benefit to the other,” he says. Candidates need to interview the company, as well. “You have to be respectful and professional, but don’t forget to be real. This is a big decision, one that hopefully you will live with for years, so make sure it is as good for you as you are for them.”
Takeaway: Come with your own list of questions about the company’s strategy and culture.
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