3 Interview Mistakes You're Probably Making (& What To Do Instead)

All the time you’ve spent investing in your job search, updating your resume and improving your LinkedIn profile has finally paid off.

Your dream company has scheduled an interview with you!

So now it’s time to get to work preparing for the interview.

However, preparing for an interview is more than just making sure your suit is pressed and your shoes are shined. It requires researching the company, being prepared to answer questions, and asking your interviewer great questions.

Interviews were a big part of what I did in my corporate career. I interviewed many candidates and could tell immediately which ones took the time to prepare and which ones didn’t.

Today I want to share 3 common interview mistakes candidates make and give you some tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not taking the time to think through the questions

A common misconception about answering interview questions is that you must answer right away. That you can’t take any time to think. But that’s absolutely not the case.

When you don’t take time to think about your answer, you’re more likely to leave out important information or give a response that vaguely answers the question. It’s okay (and actually expected) for you to take a moment to think about the question before you respond.

If you get asked a tough question that you don't know how to answer say, “That’s a great question. May I have a quick minute to collect my thoughts? I want to give you a great answer and I need just a minute to think about my response.”

It’s ok to be human and take a few seconds to get your thoughts together. Interviewing is tough and giving a thoughtful answer is much better than a rushed response because you’re flustered.

Tip #1: Before your interview, spend time reading through commonly asked interview questions. Write down questions you were asked in the past. Jot down important skills or experiences you want to include in your answers.

Don’t write out an answer and memorize it though. You don’t want to sound like a robot. The notes are simply to give you a starting point for how to answer the question and ensure you don’t leave out important information.

Mistake #2: Not giving result based answers

You never want the interviewer to feel you’re not qualified for the position. When you don’t share your specific results related to the questions they ask, it leaves them guessing if you can do the job. You want your answers to reflect why you’re the best fit for the job or highlight your potential to succeed in the position.

When asked a question about relevant experience, always use the STAR method to respond. You want to describe the situation, the task at hand, the action you took, and the result of that action. You want to convey that you are someone that knows how to take action and get results. Most candidates don’t share enough about their results. Their answers are often too vague and lack detail. You want to get specific and paint a picture for the interviewer of your past success.

Tip #2: You want to be sure your answers are relevant to the question being asked, the company, position or industry. You want to show your knowledge of the industry, your enthusiasm for the company, and the skills & experience you bring to the table. Make sure the details you give highlight relevant skills and support how you can collaborate, adapt and communicate effectively.

Mistake #3: Not asking the interviewer any questions

When you don’t ask questions at the end of your interview, it tells the interviewer you didn’t do your research and you’re not really interested in the position. It can also indicate that preparation may not be characteristic of your work style which may be a key element of the position you’re applying for.

When the interviewer ends by saying “Do you have any questions for me?” It’s never ok to say, “No, I think you covered everything.” Have a list prepared of 3-5 great questions to ask.

Tip #3: Here are some ideas on what you can ask. Start by searching the internet for questions to ask in an interview. Research the company, as well as their competitors. Ask the interviewer what it’s like to work for the company. Ask them if they have any concerns about hiring you. It’s okay to ask about their concerns so you can address any reservations and let them know you’re the right fit.

Tip #4: If something came up in conversation that you have in common, make sure to mention it. Those small connections build rapport with the interviewer.

No matter what stage of the job search process you’re in, doing research and taking the time to prepare is key. The interview is an easy way to determine which candidates have prepared and are serious about the job and which ones aren’t.

But if you’ve taken the time to craft an appropriate resume and network with on LinkedIn, I know you’re serious about the job, so don’t let the interview trip you up! I hope the tips I shared today help you feel more prepared and confident as you walk into your next job interview.

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