Iv'e seen too many great candidates miss out on fantastic opportunities.
Why do so many people fail to impress in job interviews?
Many fail simply because they don't know what the interviewer is looking for.
In this article, I'll point out 10 critical mistakes that people make in interviews.
By showing you what interviewers expect, you'll be better placed to avoid making the same offer killing errors!
10 critical interview mistakes
This list is based on years of recruitment and interview coaching experience.
Most people don't even realise that they're making these mistakes time and again.
Over the next fine minutes you'll become one of the few people that truly understands what interviewers are looking for.
So here they are, the top 10 deadly interview sins.
1. Focusing too much on what you want
Many candidates go into an interview with one question in mind, what can this company do for me?
An interviewer can spot this a mile off, and trust me it doesn't go down well.
What's the interviewers agenda?
Don't forget, the interviewer wants to know if you are the person that can solve their problems.
They want to understand if you can make a positive difference in their organisation.
Your job is to demonstrate that we are up to the task!
Keep the interviewer’s agenda firmly in mind.
Throughout the interview, aim to continuously reassure the interviewer that you can make a difference to the company.
This might mean reserving questions such as “is there a clear career path?” and “what are the benefits like?” until later on in the process.
As part of your interview preparation, try to understand what challenges the organisation may be facing or which opportunities are open to them.
Your job is to convince them that you can exploit these opportunities and overcome their challenges.
Do this well and they will ensure they want to see you again!
2. Not doing your homework
Effective and thorough preparation is absolutely key to interview success.
An unprepared candidate can be spotted a mile off and their lack of preparation will reveal a lack of interest in the role.
Candidates that are unprepared always get caught out and sometimes even called out on their lack of interest.
This can be very embarrassing.
3 ways to prepare for your interview:
Interview preparation is simple but it does take some time.
However, it's time well spent!
1. Research the organisation
Don’t just read their website, every candidate will do that, rather do some creative, out-of-the-box research.
Read recent press releases and news articles about them or their competitors.
Watch videos on YouTube that might feature their CEO or top executives, explore the company LinkedIn page, chat to people who have worked for the organisation.
Your aim should be to understand the challenges that the company is facing. Then you can demonstrate in the interview how you can help them solve those problems.
2. Research your interviewers
You should have been given their full names which will allow you to look them up on LinkedIn.
Today, people’s social media accounts tell their story, they reveal a lot about an individual and LinkedIn is no different.
Some deep-dive research will allow you to understand their priorities, passions, interests and will reveal any common ground that you have.
3. Research the role
Understanding the role is essential to being able to prepare powerful examples to the questions that they will ask you.
A simple job description will tell you what key skills the role requires and what competencies they will be expecting you to demonstrate.
With the help of LinkedIn, you may even be able to work out who the role reports into and who had the role before you.
A look at their LinkedIn profiles can reveal a great deal of useful information.
3. Low energy
Interviewers pick up on this immediately and it can be very difficult to recover from.
A low-energy candidate sends the message, “I don’t really want this job”.
Plus, low-energy candidates are really boring to interview!
What does a low energy candidate look like?
While energy levels can be relative, a low-energy candidate will typically:
- Have a weak handshake
- Have Bad posture
- Be poor at making eye contact
- Speak with a mumble or be difficult to understand
- Be slow to respond
- Give weak unengaging answers
While you should, of course, be yourself in your interviews, you also need to remember that this is a performance, you are on stage.
You have one shot to impress them, why would you not give it your all?
Be conscious of your body language and the message it's giving the interviewer.
4. Using ‘we’ instead of using ‘I’
This is a very common mistake and one that most people make unconsciously.
In most behavioural-based interviews, you will be asked to provide examples in their answers.
These examples should demonstrate how you performed in certain situations in the past.
This gives the interviewer an indication of how you will perform in the future.
The mistake that people make when communicating their examples is that they predominantly use ‘we’ and not ‘I’.
This is a mistake because they are interviewing you and not your team!
Remember, the interviewer wants to know what you did and how you performed. They are not particularly interested in what your boss did, or how your team performed.
Let’s compare two interview answers
We'll pretend that the interviewer has asked you for an example of when you have worked to a tight deadline
“We re-prioritized our tasks and all worked overtime to deliver the project on-time.”
“I realized that we wouldn’t complete the project on-time unless we re-prioritized, so I sat with each team member to look at their workload and establish priorities. I also knew that I needed the whole team on-board and happy to work overtime to deliver this project. I communicated why this was important and the impact that delivering for this key client would have. I was really proud of everyone pulling together to make it happen.”
Next time you are asked to give an example, focus on using the pronoun ‘I’ and avoid saying ‘we’. Think about what decisions you made and what steps you took as an individual and show the interviewer the impact that you will have on their organisation. It’s great to be a team player, but a job interview is a time when you should take credit for the difference you made to your team.
You can see the difference that using 'I' makes as opposed to 'we'.
5. Delivering unstructured answers to interview questions
Your answers need to be structured, clear communication is key to a successful interview.
Many candidates have a lot to say, they just don’t know how to say it.
When you are asked a question in an interview, it is imperative that you answer in a way that leaves the interviewer crystal clear about what you are trying to say.
In order to achieve this, it helps to follow a set pattern when answering questions.
This is especially true for questions that require detailed examples.
You should absolutely use the STAR technique
STAR is particularly useful in behavioural-based interview situations.
Using STAR will enable you to structure your answers in the following way.
▶︎ Situation – what was the context?
▶︎ Task – what was I asked to do?
▶︎ Actions – what were the specific actions that I personally took?
▶︎ Results – what were the results of these actions?
Answers that are not articulated in a structured manner are ineffective.
An unstructured and confusing answer will call into question your communication skills and whether you even know what you are doing.
Learn how to structure your interview answers with this guide.