Many job seekers face the real challenge of interview anxiety. This can be the difference between landing the job and being rejected, so it’s important to be well-prepared for the job interview. No matter how much anxiety you may feel now, you can become an effective interviewee and overall communicator. Even though you can’t predict what the interviewer will ask, you can control your responses by preparing beforehand. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when facing an upcoming job interview.
1 – Not being forward-looking
It’s important to address past experience when asked, but it’s vital that you align it with the current job. If you don’t tie your past experience to your prospective role, you’ve lost a major opportunity. Did you lead a team of 100 people in your past job? Explain to your potential employer how this skill will benefit the organization today. Your personal stories aren’t really of interest to a potential employer. They are looking for ways that your past investment into yourself, will bring them gains today. Tell the employer about your past experience, but don’t stop there. Look ahead to the company’s future goals and show them how your unique skill set can help to achieve them.
2 – Not doing your research
I recommend that a job seeker research a company’s mission, vision, goals and current events before they go into an interview. This information can be obtained easily from the company website and by conducting a little internet research. It’s important to understand why a company exists and where they see themselves going in the future. Even though many people are out of work, the employer wants to know that you’re looking to work with them, not just for the paycheck. You need to show a potential employer that you’re genuinely vested in its success and that you’ve already taken the time to get to know about their mission and vision.
3 – Overselling yourself
If you’ve ever lied about your qualifications, you’re in good (or bad) company, depending on how you look at it. Former Vice President, Joe Biden lied about receiving a full scholarship and graduating in the top half of his law class. In actual fact, he received a partial scholarship and was in 9th place. Mike Brown, FEMA’s former director, inflated his disaster recovery experience. For both of these men, these lies had disastrous results. Biden had to abandon his presidential bid and Brown didn’t have the skills to lead during Hurrican Katrina which had a direct impact on human lives. If you’re deficient in a particular area, don’t lie about it. Assure your employer that you will bring yourself up to level if you get the job. Go one step further by devising a plan with a deadline for completion.
4 – Underselling yourself
Some highly skilled jobs require candidates to possess very specific qualifications and you won’t even get an interview without them. However, sometimes people disqualify themselves because they don’t meet 100% of the listed qualifications. It’s important not to lie, but it’s equally important not to undersell yourself and take yourself out of the running. When it comes to career success, studies have shown that soft-skills are just as important as technical skills. If you’re moving across industries, your communication, leadership and innovation skills can be your foot in the door. If you lack the technical skills, develop a training plan.
5 – Talking about yourself too much
The interview isn’t about you. It’s about the company. You need to talk about how your past skills, experience, and education align with the company goals. If you leave an interview and you’ve just spent the last hour talking about yourself, chances are you won’t get a call back. If you talk about yourself, make sure it’s about your passion for the industry, ways you’ve made the industry better and ways you will contribute to company success. An interview isn’t the time to share your autobiography.
It’s always helpful to practice and rehearse before you go to the interview. I would even go as far as recording myself answering mock interview questions. This can be a useful tool in helping to determine communication weaknesses. If you’re feeling really brave, ask someone you trust to watch the video and give their honest feedback. Interviews can be scary and unpredictable but with good preparation, you can give yourself an advantage and avoid these pitfalls.