Common Interview Pitfalls

Being back in the recruiting world has been an interesting experience. I love career coaching, and now I get to bring career coaching to the job seekers that I am helping to find jobs. It has been interesting debriefing job seekers after interviews and then getting the feedback directly from the clients as to what was missing from the job seeker in a particular interview. Often times it is simple things such as a lack of a certain skill set, or not the right personality fit, however, more and more I am noticing some common mistakes that job seekers are making that could be easily avoided. Below I am going to share the top 5 common mistakes I am seeing job seekers make in their interviews and am going to share how these mistakes can be remedied.

1) Lack of knowledge in the position and/or company. I have had two job seekers go on interviews recently for completely different jobs, and both candidates were passed on immediately due to their lack of knowledge about the position. Knowing why you want to work for a company is one of the most important components of an interview. Especially in these challenging times, it is even more important than ever to thoroughly research a company prior to an interview. In both cases, the candidates had barely skimmed the client’s website, if they had looked at it at all, and had shown little to no knowledge about the company when the client had asked them about what they knew about the company. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It is really frustrating as a recruiter to go out of your way to get a candidate an interview, to prepare the candidate and then to have the candidate not prepare themselves for the interview. This is a mistake that can be easily avoided. Just remember, always come up with at least 5 reasons why you want to work for a company, 5 reasons why they should want to hire you, and 5 questions regarding the position, prior to ANY interview!

2) Cockiness. This may seem like something I should not even have to address, but it has come up as an issue in several recent interviews. Being confident in yourself and your abilities is wonderful. Everyone should be able to list at least 5 reasons why a company should want to hire them, however, feeling like you are entitled to the position is something entirely different. There is a fine line between cockiness and confidence. A way to avoid coming across as cocky in an interview is to avoid talking only about yourself, and to ask the employer questions about how you can help them and be a resource for them if you were to be hired. A cocky person would just go on and on about themselves, and would not be concerned about the company’s needs.

3) Bad Thank You letters.
I have seen a variety of Thank You letters over the years, and I am still amazed at what people will often put in a Thank You letter. The most common mistakes in Thank You letters are: bad grammar, misspellings, over zealous enthusiasm about the job (I once had a candidate who had their job offer rescinded due to an overly enthusiastic email sent with exclamation points and happy faces. NO I am not joking!), and sometimes, poor writing skills. The easiest way to avoid these common pitfalls is to always ask someone else to proof read any Thank you letter before it is sent out.

4) Ineffective “Tell me about yourself” (TMEAY) statements. Your TMEAY should be well thought out and well executed. From attorneys to file clerks, many job seekers have never been taught how to give a great TMEAY statement. A few months ago I wrote an article on how to do just this. To find out more about how to give a great TMEAY statement go to: />

5) Lack of enthusiasm/interest in the position.
The MOST important aspect of any interview, even more important then what you say, is your attitude. Who you are being in the interview has a lot to do with how successful or unsuccessful you may be. The people who do the best in any interview are the ones who are prepared, but also, the ones who show the most enthusiasm and interest in the position. You could have prepared exceptionally well, but if your whole interview is done in a monotone voice, or just comes across as lackluster, chances are you are NOT going to be the one to get the job. The next time you go into an interview, try to think about something you are passionate about or excited about. I was recently interviewing a man who was not that excited during the interview. I proceeded to ask him what his favorite hobby was, and he started to share with me about surfing. His whole face lit up and he was a new person. I coached him to bring that same energy and enthusiasm to his next interview, and he did.

Watch out for these simple pitfalls in your next interview. If you prepare well, come across as confident, give a great TMEAY, show enthusiasm, and write a great Thank You letter, you will be the one who likely gets the job!

Are you giving up too Easily?

Have you ever found yourself wondering if you would have pushed
yourself just a little bit harder if you would have succeeded? I found
myself thinking about this very question just the other night. I was
playing a game on my iPhone at the airport called “Unblock Me.” (Very
appropriate name for this discussion!) It is a very simple game that
requires you to move blocks in different directions until your main
colored block has a clear path to exit the puzzle.
    I think
this game can be a great analogy for life. You see, I had played this
puzzle several times to no avail. It was not until about the 5th time
that I realized that I was missing a critical move and was quitting the
game too soon. If I had just made that one additional move the whole
puzzle would have unfolded very easily. This gave me an “ah ha” moment
when I began to realize how many times in life I stop just short of my
goal because I think the obstacles in front of me are insurmountable
and that I have no moves left.
   This analogy became even more
clear to me on Saturday night when I was attending a VIP networking
event in San Francisco. When I first arrived at the party, there very
only a few people there and I began talking to someone standing near me
about business, with no intention of speaking to this person for more
then a few minutes to pass the time.
   There were a few key VIPs
that I really wanted to speak with that night, so as the party began to
fill up, I had already planned my exit strategy from that initial
conversation. As luck would have it, I wound up talking to this initial
person longer then I had originally anticipated, and wound up getting
some extremely valuable information about book publishing out of the
conversation. I would have never gained that information if it were not
for the fact that I had stayed that extra 5 minutes to talk to him.
Ask yourself this: How often have you stopped short of your goals? How
many times do you give up because you think it will not make a
   Think about this tonight before you go to bed and
make a list of the top 10 things you wish you had accomplished, but
stopped short of because of some obstacle. Then look at your list, pick
one thing that you had given up on, and begin to look at that thing
from a new perspective. Write down 10 ways that you could push through
and achieve that goal if you really wanted to. Try to think outside of
the box and look at this goal in a new way. Do not tell yourself “I
cannot do it,” instead, ask yourself “How can I do it?”
   If you
can break through even one block, that can help to give you a clear
path towards achieving your goals! When you break through just one of
your blocks you are on your way having everything you want out of life!