I’ve made a lot of job interview mistakes in my lifetime of looking for jobs. Generally speaking – getting to an interview has never been that difficult for me – ain’t that easy either, don’t get me wrong here. But in hopes of helping you succeed in your interviews, I’d like to share some of the mistakes I’ve made during my interviews.
1. Not respecting the interviewer’s time
There are essentially 2 ways you can blow this. First is in taking too long to give an answer. There are all kinds of pithy advice out there about having 2 ears and 1 mouth, meaning that you should listen twice as long as you speak. That could work. The key is that an interview is give and take. The interviewer asks a question. You answer in bite-size pieces that she can digest. Otherwise, you run into the 2nd way that you disrespect an interviewer’s time; which is overstaying your welcome.
This is hard. You’ve been out of job for a while, and finally, you are here in front of a human being that can give you a job. The last thing you want is to get in and out without fully presenting your case. And yet you must. You must be out in 20 minutes – absolutely no more than 30 minutes. Even if the interviewer wants to spend more time with you; respect her time and get out. If you cannot persuade the interviewer to move your along the hiring process with a 20 to 30 minute sessions – staying an hour will not help – to the contrary – it will only make it worse.
And speaking of worse – don’t make the interviewer looked at her watch.
I had an interview that I thought was going great. I was hitting on all cylinders. This guy was simply enamored with me. I was in – like Flint. Then he yawned. Then it was over. I was in there for over an hour. Pathetic. Don’t you make the same mistake.
2. Dumb jokes to break the ice
I was invited to a panel interview with 3 individuals (2 HR and 1 Management). I had already met with one of the interviewers and that got me in front of this panel. I was very excited. Somewhere toward the beginning of the interview, I make a joke about “how great it would be to work here, at least you get to fly for free” (the opportunity was with a major airline). What was I thinking?
No jokes, no funnies – no irrelevance. Respect the interviewer, respect the company, and don’t be compelled to break the ice.
3. Not asking serious questions
This is also a toughie. Again, for some, just getting the interview is the end. But it is not the end. It is the beginning. And not asking serious questions will pretty much put an end to the process. Sometimes you will feel like all your questions have been answered and have nothing to ask. That’s okay if your entire interview was a give and take. And the interviewer asks, “well, do you have any final questions?” You say, “Actually, no – we pretty much went over everything, and I have to say…” you jump into a 2 minute recap of why you would be good hire and leave.
And the questions you ask for HR – screening interviews are different than the ones you ask a hiring manager.
Questions demonstrate your commitment to prepare for the interviews and conveys a sense of professionalism.
4. Late to an interview
Don’t be late and don’t dress in anything other than a conservative business suit with a plain, matching tie. I was late and I wore a red tie with white sheeps all over it except for one black sheep right in the middle of the tie. I thought it was cute. The interviewere must not have because I didn’t get a follow up call.
In retrospect, the interviewer probably thought I was troublemaker. Nothing about how you dress should take away from the interview. And being late is for many, the kiss of deaths.
I’ve made a lot more job interview mistakes than these 4, no doubt. But as you prepare for your interviews, consider some of my interview mistakes and do better.