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During this episode, I will talk about five common mistakes candidates make during an interview and what you can do to avoid them.
Hi and welcome to today’s episode, during which I share the five most common mistakes candidates make during job interviews and what you can do to avoid them. If you like my podcast, please click on the link in the episode description to let me know what topics you would like me to cover in 2022. But now, let’s focus on today’s subject.
Mistake 1: Being unprepared
Let’s face it – it’s impossible to anticipate exactly what you will be asked during the interview, and no one expects you to have perfect answers prepared to all potential questions. However, not having done your basic homework by reading up about the company and preparing for the most common interview questions can lead to the interviewer questioning your work ethic and how motivated you are to join the company. To avoid ending up in this situation, prepare a 30-second elevator pitch that you would use to introduce the company to one of its clients. Then, read about the employer’s culture and identity how and why it would motivate you to work there. Finally, make sure you can talk about your achievements, failures, strengths, weaknesses, career ambitions, why you are interested in this role and why you are the right person for this job.
Mistake 2: Focusing on the wrong things
Imagine you are the hiring manager interviewing an applicant for a finance controller position. You ask the candidate about his greatest achievement. He tells you about him overcoming his public speaking fear and successfully giving a speech to 200 people. Even though this is a great achievement, it would be difficult for you to translate this into him being qualified for the job, wouldn’t it? And while this example is an exaggeration, it demonstrates the importance of focusing on the right things. So, when asked questions to determine your strengths, skills, qualifications and experience, give answers that show the value you can create for the company if you get this specific job. And when asked about weaknesses, failures or situations you wish you had handled differently, choose those that would have the least negative impact on the position you are interviewing for.
Mistake 3: Not getting to the point
Candidates who give unstructured and long-winded answers risk not getting their message through and losing the interviewer’s attention. The good news is that you can avoid this by using the right techniques, depending on the type of question you are asked. To answer behavioral questions, such as “tell me about a time you had to solve a difficult problem,” I recommend using a story-telling technique called the STAR method. Start by describing, in 1-2 sentences, when and where the situation occurred and why it was important. Then, add 1-2 sentences to explain your task. After that, describe your actions and finalize your example by summarizing the results you achieved. For traditional questions such as “why should we hire you,” “what are your strengths,” and so on, it is often a good idea to summarize the most important arguments at the beginning of your answer. For instance, “The three main reasons why I am the right person for this job are A, B and C.” Then, you can provide more details for each of your points.
Mistake 4: Talking badly about others
Another common mistake candidates make is badmouthing their former employers, managers or colleagues. Talking badly about others is unprofessional, makes you appear problem-focused and creates a negative atmosphere. There are two strategies you can use to avoid this common pitfall. First, focus on the facts without being judgmental. For instance, when asked about a conflict you were involved in at work, describe, without blaming anyone, objectively what the conflict was about and your and the other person’s positions. Then, focus on how you solved the situation. The second strategy is helpful when being asked about your current or former employer. Instead of talking about what you disliked, focus on what you liked about the opportunity ahead. So, the narrative becomes you applied for the position at hand because of all its positive aspects rather than because you want to leave your current job.
Mistake 5: Having no questions to ask
There are three reasons why I encourage you to ask smart and relevant questions during your interview. First, not having any questions can undermine the otherwise positive impression you made, since it might be interpreted as disinterest or you not being motivated enough to care. Second, the recruitment process is not a one-way street, and you want to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision as to whether or not the job is the right choice for you. And finally, it may be interpreted as you already having decided that you want the job, literally without any questions being asked, which may give you a disadvantage during salary negotiations. Tune in to the episode called “Asking the right questions during an interview” if you need more help with this.
That’s it for today. Thanks for listening, and please let me know what topics you would like me to cover in 2022 by clicking the link in this episode’s description.