The purpose of interviewing is pretty straightforward: the company wants to see if you’re a good fit for the job, and you want to see if you’ll be happy and productive at the company. But, the interview process is often overwhelming and stressful for many candidates. All that pressure can lead to interview mistakes. Here are a few of the common ones people make, what you can do to avoid them.
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1. Thinking you’re under the microscope.
Well, maybe you are, but understand that it’s a two-way street. While the interviewer wants to assess whether you’re a good a fit and likely to do the job well, you also have the opportunity to assess the company to see if it’s a good place for you. So don’t get desperate or overzealous and give answers that you think they would want to hear.
2. Camouflaging your strength into a weakness.
The intention of the question about your strengths and weaknesses is not to laud you for your awesomeness. They’re not waiting to hear that you’re obsessed with work. They want to know how if you’re aware of your weaknesses and what you’ve done to address your shortcomings.
So, don’t just turn strengths into your weakness. “I can’t go back home with an unfinished project” is not a weakness. Your interviewer has been in your seat before, so they know the trick you’re playing. Be honest and also share what you’re doing/have done to overcome your weakness.
Be sure not to share a weakness that you cannot afford to have on the job. “I lack attention to detail” is not a weakness you should name while interviewing for a data analyst job.
3. Giving generic/philosophical answers to questions.
When asked, “How do you work in a team environment?,” one candidate I interviewed replied, “I believe all of us have our own personality. I respect that and work with them.”
This is a generic and bland answer. If you give this answer, you’re not sharing anything about yourself. Every question is an opportunity to highlight a bit about yourself, to tactfully impress upon your interviewer that you are a good resource. Answer the questions with examples, set the context and let your interviewer understand how you react to situations. Use the Situation Task Action Result (STAR) approach whenever possible.
4. Applying to too many roles in the same company.
If you are applying to multiple roles in the same company, and there is no real connection between one role and the other, the desperation clearly comes across. In many cases, multiple entries can be filtered out through the Applicant Tracking System and the recruiter can see that you’ve applied to a zillion jobs. If you must apply to multiple roles and the jobs you’ve applied to are interrelated, mention your interest in the cover letter and also explain the fact that you have applied to more than one role; and customize your resume to the role.
5. Not knowing the basics.
The hiring manager will ask you why you want to join this company and why you’re leaving your old company. They’re also going to ask you about yourself, and your goals. These are some of the basic questions that you can be sure your interviewer is going to ask. If you are not prepared for the most common questions, haven’t done enough research about the company or the role, then you’re just wasting your and the interviewer’s time. So make sure you are prepared.
The problem with an exceptionally creative answer is that it can’t always clear the truth test. When the interviewer starts delving deep into a particular answer, you may not have all the answers to her questions. If she realizes that you are lying, you’ll be harming your reputation with the company and possibly blocking yourself from future opportunities. So, the best route is to be honest in your answers. If you do not have experience in a particular area, then see if you can use an example from a transferable skill.
7. Not expressing enough interest.
Right from the initial phone screen, the interviewer can sense your interest level. If you’re aloof and don’t show enough interest in your interactions, they won’t want to invest in you. From your cover letter, to your phone screen, to your on-site interviews, to your follow-up communication, you need to send across the message that you are looking forward to the prospect of working for the company. Tread carefully the line between being desperate and not caring at all. Use your follow-up opportunities to explain any of your responses that may help your candidature, instead of just sending a generic “thank you.”
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