Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Avoid these common interview mistakes...and oh yeah, BE HAPPY!

Congratulations!!! You made it to the interview, but NOW WHAT?
What preparations do you need to complete to ensure that you have not only a successful interview, but also remain on the top of the list of the interviewer? 
As a recruiting professional, I have seen firsthand and heard of many interview stories of interviewees who make common interview mistakes, and I want to share with you my top five interview tips to help you avoid those.

  1. Be prepared
You would think this goes without saying, but you would be surprised how many interviewees do not come prepared, either with copies of their resumes or additional items to support their experience, or even don’t research the company they are interviewing for.

An interviewer is always going to ask you “what do you know about our company?” and if you respond with “not much” or “I haven’t taken a look at your website,” you will be going straight to the bottom of the applicant pile. To an interviewer, if you aren’t interested in reading up about the company you are interviewing for, why would you be interested when you work for the company.

  1. Dress appropriately
I think this is probably the biggest mistake an interviewee can make, and also one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to interviews. Always dress professional, which means clean, neat clothing. Even if you just graduated from school, or have been unemployed for a period of time, you can always dress professional. A button-down shirt, nice trousers, and good quality shoes can go all long way if that is all you can manage or afford.   AVOID excessive cologne, perfume or smelling like you just smoked a cigarette as well!

Biggest tip I can give you is to know your location, what is the typical work attire in your city, find out the culture of the company (by doing your research), and lastly if you aren’t sure, ask! When setting up the interview, ask the person scheduling the interview, “Is business attire acceptable?”

  1. Poor communication skills
It is hard to pinpoint what communication mistakes you should avoid, but generally an interviewer shouldn’t talk too much or too little during an interview. You want to have a good 60/40 ratio, where you are using your time to respond to the interviewer’s questions, but not just with “yes” or “no” answers.
If you talk too much, you won’t allow the interviewer to ask their questions which they use to help gauge each interviewee’s level. If you talk too little, an interviewer will feel they are having to force information out of you, and won’t enjoy the interview and therefore won’t place you as a potential candidate. If you are nervous, shy, or uncomfortable speaking in public, it’s okay to say that during an interview, but follow up by telling me, the interviewer, how you are trying to improve upon that.

Always remember, you want to be friendly and personable, but that doesn’t mean you should be talking about personal information. An interviewer doesn’t need to know your family history, how many kids you have, or other items you may think help you to be seen as open and approachable, but instead the interviewer is learning too much information about yourself which in turn could be used against you.

  1. Have your answers ready to the most common interview questions
Just like being prepared and doing research on the company, you should also be prepared with your answers to typical interview questions. If I ask an interviewee why they left their last position, and they don’t have an answer ready, this is a red flag for me.

Interviewers tend to ask the same general questions, for example: “what are your strengths/weaknesses, why did you leave your previous position, how do you respond to stressful environments, what are you looking for, etc.” Write down bullet points answering these questions, and study those points! All of this will help you come across as a confident, well prepared interviewee.

  1. Lastly be happy!
I know, I’m asking you to be happy when you have been looking for a job for the past months with no luck, and few interviews. You probably feel there isn’t much to be happy about, but an interview is your time to shine, and your time to show the organization that they are missing you as their new employee. Being happy, smiling, with a confident, good personality will help you in the interview and help increase your chances.  It also sure beats the alternative of being perceived as sad or coming across as depressed about your situation.  Smile, turn on the charm and STAY POSITIVE!!

Of course, this list is by no means complete and there are, unfortunately, many more interview mistakes interviewees can make.

What are some mistakes you have known you made during an interview?  Were you able to fix the situation?  I'd love to hear from you!

Make today a great day!

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