Don’t Make this Fatal Mistake in Interviews

I had lunch with a Deloitte alumni friend recently.  He is now a VP of Retail Sales at a major financial institution.  Since he knew I had a passion for career coaching, he told me the following recruiting story.  In the last few weeks, he has interviewed over 20 candidates for several sales openings, Manager or Director level roles.  He told me over 50% of candidates made the same fatal mistake in the interview.  Can you guess what it is?

He said he couldn’t believe it but at least 50% showed up unprepared for the interview.   They couldn’t answer the basic questions

  • Why are you a good fit for this role?
  • Why do you want to work for this company or for me?
  • Why are you thinking of making a job change now?

I couldn’t believe my ears when he told me.  He said more than 10 people were obviously unprepared and he just cut the meeting short.  Why waste time?   These candidates are not recent college grads either.  They are experienced people with at least 5 to 10 years of experience.  He couldn’t understand why someone would bother to interview and not come prepared.   His only guess were some candidates were approached by headhunters to interview and perhaps they are not really looking.

Here are my 2 cents on his story

  • If you are going to interview – be prepared!  Dah. I can’t believe I have to write this, but from his story – it’s apparently not obvious to many.
  • Don’t agree to an interview unless you are willing to prepare for it – Your brand is on the line. This comment goes out to those who are lucky enough to have a job and are still approached by recruiters.  Don’t just show up for interviews if you are not really interested and expect that the interviewer will sell you on the job.  At every interview, your brand is on the line.  If you don’t prepare, you can look like a jackaxx or an idiot and now at least one person has that impression of you.  The business world is small with probably only 3 degrees of separation.   What if the interviewer changed jobs a few years later and now you are desperately in need of a job at his new company, what do you think will happen?  He may skip your resume altogether based on his past experience even if you are qualified

So do me a favor and prepare for your interview or decline the opportunity.  Good luck out there!

– Lei

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