The GREAT JOB SOONER Blog

4 More Interview Mistakes Smart People Make

You aren’t making dumb interview mistakes. You’re never late to a job interview, and you don’t complain about your past boss to the person you’re hoping will be your next boss. So why haven’t you landed an offer yet?

In last week’s post I pointed out three common pitfalls you may not have been aware of. Here are four more you can correct for greater success.

Being too modest.

Think this isn’t you? Think again. As an interview coach I find that about 90% of my clients are failing to say enough, or to be specific enough, about the good results they’ve achieved in their work.

Don’t just tell them what you’ve done in your current and past jobs – tell them how well you did it and the impact it had. If the impact was large, quantify it, whether in terms of money, increased market share, greater efficiency, time saved, or whatever metric is relevant.

Look for extra bragging points: Is the process you created still in use five years later? Say so. Were you given a bonus or a recognition? Don’t be shy. Did you receive a memorable kudo from a customer or your manager? Quote from it.

Thinking it’s all about competence.

An interview isn’t only about proving you can do the job well. It’s also about chemistry and rapport. We all want to work with people we like and trust. So be authentic. Don’t recite memorized answers. And let your enthusiasm show. Reveal what you truly love about your work.

Think about the interviewer as a person. Wonder what you’ll like about him or her when you’re working together. Realize he or she may be just as nervous and hopeful as you are.

Not preparing a great answer to that killer question.

Is there a question that scares you a little? Or a lot? Like, why do you want to leave your current job, or have you ever been fired? If you don’t have an answer you’re comfortable with, work on it. Research it online, discuss it with a trusted friend or a coach. There’s always a best way to answer, and it’s usually better than you think.

Not preparing plenty of good questions to ask the interviewer.

Good questions show that you’ve researched the company, are curious and motivated, and are already thinking about how you can do a great job. I recommend preparing 10 good questions, because if you only have five, you may find that they’ve all been answered by the end of the interview and you’re stuck with nothing.

Holding your questions ’til the end.

Look for opportunities to ask questions early in the interview and throughout. This can make the interview feel less like an interrogation and more like a conversation, which is much more enjoyable for both parties. Your questions may also lead to information that helps you give better answers.

You’re human. Chances are you’ve made at least one of these interview mistakes; we all live and learn. But with diligent effort these missteps can be eliminated – giving you a much better chance in each interview and a shorter job search!

3 Interview Mistakes Smart People Make

You’re too smart to make those silly mistakes like reeking of cologne at a job interview or forgetting to turn off your phone. But maybe you’re still not getting offers. How can you change that?

This post and next week’s will identify some less-obvious pitfalls to eliminate.

Not being proactive about marketing yourself.

There may be 500 reasons why the company should hire you, but they won’t remember 500. They may remember three, or five. So go into your interviews knowing what your key selling points are and make sure they come across clearly and memorably. This is also known as your unique selling proposition.

Wasting the “first impression answer.”

Your answer to the first question interviewers ask – usually something like “Would you tell me a bit about yourself?” – can set the tone for the whole interview. People tend to remember what they hear first. So make sure your first answer focuses the interviewer’s attention where you want it – on those crucial key selling points. Here are some tips on answering this crucial question.

Being vague rather than concrete.

Too-general answers sound generic and unconvincing. Be specific. Tell stories that demonstrate your outstanding skills.

I won’t lie to you – it may take hours to prepare your key selling points, craft a great “Tell me about yourself” answer and plan the right interview stories. For step-by-step guidance, you may want to read my book, Get That Job, The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview.

Key selling points, an effective first answer and compelling stories will help you get that job offer a lot sooner!

See next week’s post for “4 More Interview Mistakes Smart People Make.” Better yet, subscribe and get free tips on interview preparation, resumes and other job search topics in your mailbox once a week.