The top interview mistakes you might not realise you’re making
Interview mistakes are a thing of the past aren’t they?
We’ve all done a thorough Google search to ensure that we avoid falling into the most common pitfalls at interview like don’t use your mobile phone, don’t dress in jeans and a t-shirt, don’t be late, don’t lie about your achievements.
Surely there aren’t that many more? And if there are, you can be confident that you’re certainly not making them.
Well, as someone who has sat on a fair share of interview panels over the last 30 years, I can tell you that there are actually some rather glaring mistakes that people make all the time that never seem to appear on the top interview lists.
In this blog I’m going to run through the top mistakes that easily catch the best of us out and stop you from making the great impression you desire.
1. Forgetting that you’re there to interview them too
Too much preparation for interview revolves around you giving a great impression to the company. This, of course, is essential but an interview (and any pre-interview conversations and visits) is a fantastic opportunity for you to start to assess and interview them.
One of the key (and most forgotten about) components of your interview preparation is working out what you want and making sure that the organisation and role you’re applying for can meet your requirements.
Are they right for you?
Do you like how they work?
Do you agree with their work place values?
Will they get you where you want to go in your career?
When you look at the interview from this viewpoint your perspective changes from one of only focusing on proving yourself, to consciously exploring how the employer and organisation can prove themselves to you.
2. Forgetting to draw on all of your experience
Interviews are nerve-wracking and uncomfortable experiences. No one really likes them and because you’re anxious you might forget things that after the interview you kick yourself for not mentioning.
Preparation is key!
Of course, this doesn’t mean learning all your past experiences and qualifications by heart.
What it does mean, however, is taking an objective view of the skills and abilities you have, especially those that are transferable to the role you’re interviewing for.
Prior to the interview, take the time to work out your strongest skills and those past experiences that best showcase them.
They may not all be utilised at interview but so many skills are transferable that your examples can be used as part of your response to several questions.
You can get to grip with these and work out your strongest transferable skills in my “Are You Interview Ready?” Programme and I’ll tell you more about that later in the blog.
The important thing is knowing your skills, presenting them effectively (*see the STAR method) and writing down a few key bullet points so you can run through them concisely in the interview.
This way you can present an objective history of your knowledge and experience without feeling the need to oversell yourself or feeling like you’re bragging.
(*The STAR Method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioural based interview question by discussing the specific Situation, Task, Action, and Result of the situation you are describing)
3. Forgetting to stop talking
Nerves can make most of us talk fast, or too much; make us forget what we want to say, or worse still, make us waffle. One of the most important things you can forget about when preparing for interview is how to manage your nerves.
The best way I’ve found is to practice answering questions. Ask a friend to conduct a mock interview with you.
Even if you know the questions coming up, answering them as if you’re in an interview situation can be incredibly revealing. It will demonstrate where you are succinct, where you forget part of the question or where you talked about things that weren’t relevant for the interview such as your personal life or your journey to the interview.
Even better (if you can bear it) record yourself and watch it back to see how you come across, the speed of your delivery as well as the content and your body language.
All things that are important when wanting to come across in a way that is reflective of how you are and the impression you want to make.
When you are asked a question, take your time to think through the answer. If there are a couple of parts to the question, write them down.
This not only gives you time to think but it also impresses on the interviewer how you work; that you are thoughtful and considered in your approach, you show attention to detail and are able to manage challenging situations (like an interview).
Additionally, if the question relates to something you are unfamiliar with, ask them to repeat it. This gives you time to think of an answer but if you still don’t know, be honest about it.
Don’t lie by creating an example or an experience that you don’t have – I guarantee it will come back to haunt you.
4. Forgetting to ask for help
It can feel like preparing for an interview is an insurmountable task. There’s so much to consider, organise and prepare, and that’s even before you think about how you’re going to present yourself.
Perhaps it’s been a good few years since your last interview and you’re not sure what to expect or even how to start the process of preparing.
You might be lacking assurance in your abilities, don’t even know what your core strengths and skills are or how to present them in the best way.
Or your last few interviews didn’t go as well as you’d have liked and now you lack the confidence to try again.
A good way to overcome all these challenges and worries is to ask for help from someone with the expertise and experience to support you.
That might be a trusted colleague or manager, a friend or a family member. It might even be a coach. The expertise is always there if you look and have the courage to ask.
I hope that these ideas have got you thinking differently about how you approach and prepare for interviews.
If you’ve got an interview coming up or want to brush up on your skills while you’re applying, I’d love to support you with your next steps.
My “Are You Interview Ready?” Programme might be just the thing you’re looking for.
It’s been designed to help with all the practical elements that come with planning and preparing for interviews such as identifying your core skills, working out your workplace values, crafting key workplace examples that cleverly demonstrate your greatest skills, and structuring and creating an interview presentation.
You’ll also be able to have a mock interview and build your interview confidence throughout the process.
This programme is available in either a group 4 week course or for more 1-1 dedicated time, you can undertake the half-day coaching and mentoring session.
Not sure which is right for you?
Book a Free Clarity Call with me today and together we can work out the best option for you.
Whichever choice you make, the programme will help you overcome any challenges you may be having and ensure that you are fully prepared and totally confident when it comes to your next interview.
This month, I’m also delivering a series of free training sessions on LinkedIn focusing on specific interview challenges you might be struggling with.
Find me on LinkedIn to join in or get in touch with me directly to be added to the mailing list so you don't miss out on information and updates