how to avoid them and get that dream job
Your resume has done its job and you’ve got an interview! Pumped and ready you shake hands with the interviewer, smile confidently and get down to the business of
answering their questions.
But gradually it all starts to go horribly wrong. As the interview progresses, you sense you’re starting to lose them and by the time you walk out, you just know you’ve stuffed it up.
In spite of being well prepared and confident, something went wrong in the process. While smart people follow up to get feedback as to why they were unsuccessful, they often don’t receive a complete and honest answer to learn from.
Having interviewed many candidates for different jobs and been interviewed countless times myself; here are three common interview mistakes that are guaranteed to lose you the job.
Mistake # 1: Failing to listen to the question and watch for signals.
Nerves play a key part in this. Eager to display your key strengths and wonderful experience, you launch headlong into a lengthy demonstration of your knowledge and achievements. Although admirable, it may be a long bow to tie what you know to the question. When you’re busy talking, it’s too easy to miss the body language signs that the interviewer is bored with your answer.
Tip: The best way to blitz an exam is to read the question carefully and consider your answer before putting pen to paper. Likewise in an interview, listen to the question and watch for non-verbal cues. If necessary ask the interviewer to clarify what they mean. This also buys you precious time to compose your answer before you open your mouth. Once you truly understand what the interviewer is looking for you are better able to make your knowledge, strengths and skills relevant and give a high impact, concise answer.
Mistake #2: Insufficient understanding of the role and the company
Many candidates invest hours, $s and effort preparing their CV and practicing for interviews, yet neglect to thoroughly research both the role they are applying for or the company it’s with. What’s written in the advertisement or position description is often not what the role is really about.
Tip: Take time to ring the recruiter, HR manager or the person the role will be reporting
to. Discover what’s not been written in the ad or PD before the interview. This gives you time to prepare your answers thoroughly and ensure your responses are relevant. Demonstrating a deep understanding of what the company does; where it’s at and where it’s heading is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.
Weaving this knowledge into your answers shows you’ve invested time and effort in increasing your understanding before the interview.
Mistake #3: Not asking your own insightful questions
As an interview draws to a close, the adrenalin drops, the nerves start to calm and you can’t wait to get out of there! The interviewer asks if you have any questions. In a relieved tone you say, “No, I don’t think so, thanks for your time,” stand up to shake hands and leave.
STOP! You’ve just wasted the perfect opportunity to nail the interview!
Tip: Asking a few well-targeted questions leaves a great impression and further demonstrates your strong desire to understand more about the role and ability to do it well. Great questions include:
1. What are the three most important traits you are looking for and why are they mportant?
The answer provides an opening for you to match your strengths and further highlight your achievements.
2. What do you believe will be the biggest challenges the [name the role title] will face in the first three months?
This answer opens up the opportunity to demonstrate where you’ve overcome a similar challenge in the past.
3. When the person who is appointed to the role has exceeded all your expectations, what will be different and how will you know they have succeeded?
This helps the interviewer articulate the priorities which are often buried or not stated in
the position description.
Note: This isn’t the appropriate time to ask about the pay and package, hours or working conditions. These questions can come later if and when you are successful in moving to the next round or offer.
Remember, an interview is a two-way process and you want to find out what you need to know to decide if the role is right for you. Acute listening, considered questions, concise answers and a thorough understanding of the role and company are often the
difference that makes the difference to winning your dream job.
Good luck with your next interview!