We’ve all said or done something we wished we hadn’t at some point in our lives. When you’re among family or friends, there’s usually a fix, but that’s not always the case with a job interview. Unfortunately, you may be prone to interviewing mistakes because of nerves or pressure when you feel the stakes are high. Sometimes you can recover; other times you just have to learn and move on. Here are five of the most common interviewing mistakes, and some tips to get yourself out of these sticky situations.
Mistake #1: Being too quick to answer. This often causes the comment that you immediately regret. During an interview, take a brief moment to think about what information the interviewer is looking for with a particular question. Don’t hesitate to ask your own clarifying question – it shows you are trying to deliver the information requested. If it’s too late and you’ve answered too quickly, be honest and let the interviewer know you’d like to reconsider your answer.
Mistake #2: Making a joke that falls flat. Some people handle stress by joking around, but in an initial job interview, the way recruiters and hiring managers will react to your humor is unpredictable. That’s why it’s best to hold off on making jokes until you’re deeper into the relationship. If you do make a joke that offends someone, an apology is needed. If your joke simply falls flat, make sure you show interviewers that you’re taking the job opportunity seriously in your next answer to avoid further interviewing mistakes.
Mistake #3: Not having a convincing reply to ‘Why do you want this position?’. Count on being asked this question or a variation of it in nearly every video interview or on-premise interview. The best-case scenario is that you’ve given thought to the reasons and have come up with a concise answer during your interview prep. But, if you forgot to prepare – or forgot your excellent answer, try to respond with a combination of what interests you about the job, and how you could be valuable to the organization. If you felt your answer was ok but not great, make a point of re-answering it more effectively in your follow-up communication.
Mistake #4: Not asserting yourself. If you feel interviewers are not getting an accurate impression of you during the dialog, consider being more assertive. You can rephrase questions or provide additional information in your answers so interviewers see the real you. It comes down to knowing yourself and what strengths and capabilities you want to get across in this particular conversation. Do it respectfully and you have nothing to lose since without getting your message across, you may not move forward in the hiring process.
Mistake #5: Ignoring other staff. Remember, the interview is ‘on’ the moment you connect on video or walk in the front door, so make sure to treat everyone you meet with courtesy and respect. You can be sure the interviewers will ask for their impression of you afterwards. A friend told me that as a job candidate, he treats everybody at a potential new employer like the CEO – good advice! If you’ve neglected to do this, be sure to make a point of it the next time you interview.
Live and Learn
Online interviewing is very hard, so if you’ve made one or more of these interviewing mistakes and recovery wasn’t possible, the best thing you can do is apply your learning as you move forward. Be prompt and clear in your communication with the hiring team, and stay positive. When you find your dream job, be sure they understand the top three reasons you are interested and the top three ways you can help the company move forward. Have your ‘Here’s what I can do for you’ message ready, and you’ll close that deal.