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Do You Make These 4 Mistakes In Interviews?

        posted by , January 10, 2013

Much of the interview advice you'll find on the internet is completely obvious. Don't forget the interviewer's name, don't be late, dress professionally … stuff like that.

I'm going to go with the assumption that you know that basics.

I'll share with you the most common mistakes I've seen after interviewing hundreds of candidates over the course of my career.

I'm not an HR expert. I'm not an interviewing coach. Just someone who has made mistakes and seen mistakes. I've tried to correct these mistakes in myself and now I'd like to share them with you.

These are the 4 mistakes I've noticed.

1. Apathy

Candidates who seem only mildly interested in the role (at best). Candidates who appear even less interested in the organization that they supposedly want to devote part of their career too.

Perhaps candidates are playing hard to get for salary negotiations.

Perhaps candidates don't want to come off as desperate.

Perhaps they just don't care.

Whatever the reason … again and again I see hiring teams choose the most enthusiastic candidate (even when they are less qualified).

It's a mistake to not to show strong interest.

2. BS When You Don't Know

It's incredibly refreshing when a candidate says "I don't know". If you really don't know something it's hard to BS your way out of it.

Worse, when you pretend to know something, your interviewer may ask you follow up and related questions. Before you know it half of your interview is BS answers.

Be candid with your interviewer. If you don't know something … tell them. Explain how you'd go about learning it. Explain something related that you do know.

Your interviewer is evaluating you on much more than knowledge. Refreshing candor often gets you further than a BS answer.

3. Taking Yourself Too Seriously

There's a certain tension about interviews. Even the interviewer feels it. Often the interviewer is just as nervous as the candidate.

Interviews change the course of our lives and careers. They're big business to us. We really don't want to screw them up.

Ironically, the more you worry about screwing up your interview the more likely you are to screw it up. You'll forget about the power of humor. You'll be too conservative in your answers. You'll end up hiding your personality.

I've hired people who are real characters. In the interview they came off as personality-less drones. When they joined the organization suddenly they were full of life.

If they'd been themselves in the interview I would have hired them twice as quickly and confidently.

You need to maintain professional polish in an interview. It's not a good idea to show off your comedian skills. However, a little personality doesn't hurt.

4. Unconvincing Answers

I often get the impression that a candidate has the knowledge to answer a question but that they have trouble spitting their answer out in a convincing way.

This is one of the many reasons why communications skills (and related skills such as public speaking) are critical to your career.

It takes years to perfect your communications skills but each minor improvement pays big rewards.

If you only have a few days to prepare for your next interview — do as many practice questions as you can. Answer the questions out loud (verbalize your answers).

You don't need anyone to critique you. You'll know if your answers sound convincing.

You won't be asked the same questions in the interview but your mind will build answer patterns. Practice makes perfect as they say.

This article is part of the ongoing series: how to win your next job.

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