Congratulations! The hiring manager called and set an appointment to interview at the company you always wanted to work for. You get off the phone and feel as if you want to jump out of your seat and start celebrating; instead you get to thinking, what if you mess up the interview and don’t get the job? After all, the hiring manager must be interviewing other applicants other than you and there is still the chance that you may or may not get the job.
First of all relax and plan a strategy for planning a successful interview, a strategy that will get you the job above those other applicants. Take a minute to consider these ten common interview mistakes that many other applicants make:
1) Poor self presentation:
How you present yourself, like showing up on time for the interview, dressing in the appropriate attire, and how your hair and visual presence is absolutely everything in an interview. Although you may like to express your individuality to everyone, your “inner rebel” should never show through in an interview- meaning tattoos and piercings should be removed. Show up early and mind your etiquette while waiting on the interview, the front receptionist may also have influence as to who gets hired as the hiring manager. So put up your cell phone and wait patiently for the interview rather than send a last minute text to your friend.
2) Lack of Preparedness for key questions:
An upper management position will require you, the prospective employee, to think quickly and within the vernacular of the position that they want you to fill. Be completely prepared to answer questions like about your best and worst attributes, where you see yourself five years from now, and how you handled ineffective coworkers in the past. Answering these questions quickly and clearly will make a great impression on the hiring manager.
3) Lack of research of the company:
This is a deadly mistake; you must know everything you can about the company before you sit across the hiring manager’s desk. This includes the company’s mission, its competition, the products or services that the company offers, and the corporate atmosphere of the company.
4) Inability to demonstrate a fit for the company:
You are taking the hiring manager’s time for a reason; he or she saw in your resume enough information to consider you for the job. It is your purpose to “sell” your contribution, your enthusiasm, and your professionalism.
5) Showing that you are nervous:
Remember the commercial that states “Never let them see you sweat”, this holds true for job interviews as well. You must exude confidence in yourself and demonstrate your ability to handle pressure.
6) Inability to have an explanation for gaps in your personal work history:
You are aware that you got fired, laid off, sick, or took time off for some reason that you could not have prevented. The hiring manager is completely aware of an unstable economy; however your statement in addressing the missing holes will define your ability to answer under pressure. Additionally, if the period of unemployment was several months or more, then you will need to have a response that shows initiative rather than showing that you just sat idly on unemployment benefits.
7) Demonstrating yourself as a “bad seed”:
Although #6 defines you need to have an explanation for being fired, it would be good to relay that you are not the type of employee that will be “caught on camera” doing inappropriate things on company time. If you were fired, don’t be defensive if the hiring manager asks you why- the important thing is that you are prepared with a reasonable answer. The hiring manager does not want to hire an irresponsible, ineffective employee and it will be your responsibility to demonstrate a positive spin on a negative experience.
8) Speaking like you are the authority:
Ok you have confidence in what you do, very good, now make sure you don’t overdo it! Pay considerable attention to the questions that the hiring manager asks and make sure that your responses are clear, concise and not too lengthy or over exaggerated. Presenting an overinflated ego may demonstrate your lack of collaborating with a team of other professionals. Above all other things, do not talk over your hiring manager, again this is an example of common courtesy and etiquette that indicates your professional behavior.
10) Inability to leave a good lasting impression:
The hiring manager is most likely going to ask at the end of the interview if you have any questions for them, take the time to carefully prepare your response and let it reflect your interest and enthusiasm in the company. Although your first reaction is to ask about the benefits and incentive program, try and ask questions instead that demonstrates interest in the company. A demonstration of self interest over the company’s goals and missions will leave a bad last impression. Take time to carefully phrase this end statement to showcase your knowledge and dedication to your prospective employer.
Avoid the common interview mistakes and take in specific consideration that you most likely will be one of many applicants. Again, keep in mind your personal presentation, your individual sales pitch and demonstrate your values and ethics. Above all, remain courteous with the hiring manager, he or she will have either a lot of work to do after the interview or have a lot of applicants following your interview. They selected you for this interview for a reason; it is your turn to prove your interest, communication and teamwork abilities.