As a career coach, I often help professionals prepare to secure what are many times the biggest career opportunities of their lives, from entry-level positions to senior executive positions requiring board of directors’ review and approval. For many workers, there is a lot at stake in a job interview – opportunity, financial security, happiness and making dreams come true.
I’ve come to recognize (repeatedly affirmed by my clients) just how important it is to be prepared for an interview. In fact, preparation is key to landing the job. Don’t just wing it, you have WAY to much riding on this opportunity.
Yet I continue to be amazed by the stories hiring managers tell me of what goes wrong. So you won’t be the one left wondering why you didn’t get the job, here are 5 top interview mistakes:
- Simply show up for your interview – in other words, unprepared. Failing to do sufficient (or any) research on the business or company prior to the interview is a mistake. Check out the company’s Web site, their annual report and current news articles (check online or at the library). Understand how and what the company is doing today – and what is changing. During the interview, find an opportunity to convey some of what you have learned and inquire about what it may mean for your position. Don’t ask the interviewer obvious questions about things that could (or should) have been gleaned from the company Web site. More often than not you are wasting your interviewer’s time and hurting your chances.
- Arrive late and breathless for your interview, explaining you “got lost trying to find the office.” Consider driving to the interview site the day before so you will know a) how long it takes and b) how to get there. Introduce yourself to the receptionist. Ask if they have any suggestions or information that might help you be more prepared for your upcoming interview. This extra effort will help you to be better prepared and decrease your stress level for your actual interview.
- Fail to ask questions. A good rule of thumb: you should be asking about the same number of questions as the interviewer asks you. The questions you ask convey a great deal about you, so ask intelligent ones. (“From your experience, what’s the No. 1 challenge I would face in this position?” or “What are the key skills to be successful in this position?”) Having no questions conveys you really aren’t that interested or prepared. Coach’s tip: Pay close attention to their answers. They are frequently the “keys” to what the interviewer is looking for in the position. If the interviewer identifies “working well on a team” as important and you respond with, “I know how to use Word,” you probably weren’t listening closely enough.
- Rant about your previous boss (as in, “My previous boss was a jerk”). This is a big red flag that indicates that you may have difficulties getting along with management and others. In trashing your previous boss, the potential new boss is now imagining you doing the same thing to him or her. If there was trouble in your previous position, speak to it briefly (less is more), with something along the lines of, “It wasn’t the right fit,” then describe your desire to be a contributor to a high-performing team and workplace.
- Be unrealistic. Starting the interview by asking when or how you will be promoted is inappropriate. Demonstrating you are goal-oriented is good, such as inquiring about the typical career path for the position; signaling to the interviewer that your interest in the current position is only as a stepping stone to another isn’t. Don’t leave interviewers wondering if you will bail at the first wind of something you perceive as a better opportunity.
Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I help job seekers all over the world via Skype. Call me: 360 682 5807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org