If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had interviews for college admissions and part-time jobs. However you haven’t interviewed for many professional or executive positions. It’s easy to think that all job interviews are the same, but it’s important to go in prepared. By avoiding these five common interview mistakes, you’ll cast yourself in a more favorable light and increase your chances of getting the job you’re pursuing.
Having Substandard and Unconfident Body Language
While it’s normal to be somewhat nervous before a big job interview, it’s equally important to remain calm and appear confident. Maintain eye contact, lean forward, sit straight, and don’t fidget. Slouching, fidgeting, and looking downward are all errors that tell an interviewer “I’m not sure of myself”. It’s your job to convince them otherwise, and by improving your body language, you’re more likely to do so.
To initiate the conversation, a potential employer may ask you to summarize your resume or tell them something notable about yourself. While it’s important to explain things, it’s vital to keep it brief as well. Your answer should be about two minutes in length (not 10 or 15 minutes long). People have short attention spans, and interviewers are no exception. Keep it short, and keep them interested.
It’s tempting to keep talking until you’re sure you’ve covered it all. If you let the employer ask different questions, you’ll have plenty of time to provide other examples. Discuss your highlights, explain how your experience has prepared you for the job, and explain how the position fits your goals.
Providing Vague and Clichéd Answers
Many interviewees believe that, when confronted with a potential weak area, it’s best not to go into detail and to say something like “I’m just a perfectionist” or “I tend to take on more than I can handle”. While you may believe you’re glossing over your weaknesses by doing this, interviewers would rather hear something more genuine and less cliché. It’s not just about vulnerability; it’s about self-awareness. What steps are you taking to overcome your challenges? Answering that question will show the interviewer your authenticity and maturity.
Not Asking the Right Questions
Most employers will, at the end of an interview, give the candidate a chance to ask questions. However, if you say “No, I don’t have anything to ask”, it sends them the message that you’re not really interested in the job. Don’t see it as a confrontation; see it as a chance to show your interest by asking smart questions.
Learn about the company ahead of time and don’t ask questions that could easily be answered on the company’s website. Employers take the time to hold interviews, and it’s to your advantage to take the time to interview them, too. When interviews are bi-directional, it’s easier to ensure a good fit for everyone involved, and it shows the employer that you’re not wasting their time.
Not Saying “Thank You”
A short, concise email to thank the company for its consideration and time is sufficient, but a well-crafted follow-up email may help you snag that job. Restate your interest and offer a few relevant points on why you’re the right person for the job. Most potential employers expect to receive these emails within 24 hours of an interview. When you’re prompt with your follow-up, it shows the employer that you’re serious.
Interviewing for a negotiations training position may be a nerve-wracking proposition, but it doesn’t have to be the most frightening experience of your life. By avoiding these five common interview mistakes, you’ll stay confident, calm, and ahead of the other candidates.