Interviews are an unavoidable part of the job search process. Oftentimes, a successful interview is the last step between you and your dream job. That said, interviews can be intimidating, leaving candidates feeling a sense of pressure and stress. In a state of uncertainty or lack of practice, the interview can also be a roadblock in your job search journey. Before we get into interviewing best practices, let’s discuss the top common mistakes our network of career development and HR professionals have encountered.
1. Not researching the employer.
Unfortunately browsing the organization’s website is not good enough. There is so much more information available about the employer out there. Consider the following areas when you’re doing employer research to get a full understanding of the organization, beyond the website and the job posting.
- Social media accounts
- Email newsletters
- 3rd party media (press releases and news outlets)
- Current and former employees (LinkedIn is always a good place to start)
- Organization’s competition (website, social media, newsletter)
2. Not having thoughtful questions for your interviewer.
I want to remind you that an interview should be a two-way conversation. You should be evaluating the employer and the role just as much as they are. More than likely you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions. Consider preparing questions about the job specifically, the organization as a whole, and your interviewer. It reinforces your interest in the role and continues to showcase your soft skills such as critical thinking and active listening. Here are a few options to get you started.
- What is your career journey?
- What do you like best about your job? about the organization?
- What can I expect day to day in my role?
- What are the opportunities for professional development and growth?
- Are there opportunities for social development available to employees?
3. Discussing problems with former employers or teammates.
Yes, an interview is meant to evaluate your technical and hard skills, but it also plays a big role in how you showcase your soft skills and organizational fit. When asked about why you decided to leave your previous role or about any conflicts, try to remain as neutral as possible. Remember, you could be working WITH your interviewer in the near future.
4. Not staying on task
Focus in an interview is critical for success. Going off on tangents that use up valuable time and do not relate directly to the question asked, can be a red flag for interviewers. Think about the quality of your answer over the quantity when it comes to your responses. This will come with practice, so take your time before your interview to rehearse answers to commonly asked questions. Recording yourself (audio or video) and reviewing your answers is a great interview prep technique.
5. Answering questions too quickly.
Sometimes a question can be too long or unexpected for you to be prepared with an answer right away – and that is ok! If you are not sure about a question, be prepared to ask for further clarity. You can also let the interviewer know you need a moment or two to gather your thoughts. You may not get a chance to re-do an interview question, so a moment of pause can go a long way in using your time wisely.
Now that we’ve covered what not to do in an interview, let’s learn some best practices. Join us at our FREE Perfecting your Interviewing Skills workshop to gain strategies and tips straight from my career development professionals. The workshop covers: types of interview questions, methods to make your answers stand out, and examples of great answers you can take away and use in your upcoming interviews.
What other interview ‘mistakes’ have you encountered in your career journey? Let me know in the comments below or connect with us on social media to start a discussion.