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: blog.jhccs.com/2009/06/16/tell-me-about-yourself.aspx />


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!

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