7 Deadly Mistakes That Can Derail a Great Job Interview

As an Executive and Career Coach I often work with clients who are looking for a new role inside or outside their current company, or have found themselves downsized out of a job. As a result, many people are finding themselves in the interviewing process. Whether you are an experienced interviewee or a newbie, when it comes to being interviewed, even the smartest and best interviewees can sometimes fall into the trap of making serious interview mistakes that keep them out of work or stuck in a job they don’t like. And let’s face it; it’s not easy to get an interview these days.

Here are 7 mistakes that can derail an otherwise great interview:

1. Their cell phone rings while they are being interviewed. This is really annoying and can totally disrupt the flow of the interview. A colleague of mine interviewed a candidate whose cell phone rang right in the middle of the interview and he proceeded to answer the call and start a conversation. It takes a second to turn off your cell phone in the waiting room. If you do forget and your cell phone rings during the meeting. Apologize immediately to the interviewer, turn the cell phone off, and continue with the interview.

2. They haven’t checked in with all their references first. Before you start the interview process it’s a good idea to contact all your references to ask for permission to use their name, obtain their desired contact information, and find out what they might say about you. Let your reference know what you are applying for to help them prepare for the reference check. Prospective employers like to speak to your most recent boss and place of employment so make sure to include a reference from your last place of employment. You should identify 6 to 10 references. I.e. 2 subordinates (if you are in a management role), 2 bosses, 2 clients or suppliers, and 2 peers.

3. They chew gum in the interview. Unprofessional looking and a definite no-no whether you are an interviewer or an interviewee. Another tip: wear deodorant but not cologne or perfume. Many people now have allergies to scents. One of my colleagues was being interviewed where the interviewer had to end the interview abruptly because she started negatively reacting to his cologne. Ooops!

4. They share inappropriate personal stories. Once I interviewed a candidate and asked the following question: “What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?” The candidate proceeded to tell me about having too much to drink and then driving home, getting pulled over by a policeman, and having his license taken away. In another interview, a candidate revealed that he and his wife were having difficulty conceiving a baby and that his sperm count was low. Whoa! Something I did not need to know about. Be on guard and be careful about how you respond to questions. Have good, appropriate answers ready.

5. They don’t do enough homework. Read the company’s annual report. Google the people you are about to meet. Look them up on LinkedIn and determine if they are connected to anyone you might know and find out as much about them as you can. You might find a way to use the information in your interview. Remember, the interview is a two way dialogue so engage the interviewer and you will have a more fulfilling and interesting interview experience and result.

6. They assume their accomplishments alone will get them the job. You must realize your resume just gets you in the door. Once in the interview, you have to sell yourself. You have to be able to build rapport quickly and easily, make a good impression, answer questions fully yet succinctly and self-promote in a way that doesn’t come across as egotistical or arrogant but does come across confident and self-assured.

7. They don’t ask questions. Remember the interviewer is checking for organizational fit and skill and you are also checking for organizational fit and a job that matches to your list of expectations. As an interviewee be prepared with a list of at least 5 questions. You don’t have to ask all your questions but make sure you have a good question or two to ask when the interviewer says: “Do you have any questions?” Another tip: Don’t ask about salary in the first interview unless you are asked about your salary expectations.

You made it to the interview stage. Don’t give the interviewer any reason to not hire you. Put your best self out there and land the job or at least make a really great impression.

Do you have an important interview coming up? Linda can help you be your best. Just call Linda at 416-617-0734 or email linda@lindacattelan.com.

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