most common interview mistakeMost of you know that you must arrive early for an interview.  But do you know what are the most common interview mistakes that even smart professionals make?

Today, US News posted on Yahoo finance an interesting article called 50 worst of the worst interview mistakes.  While most of the listed are pretty obvious and funny, I want to comment on five mistakes that are commonly made even by people who have fairly good interviewing skills.

  1. #16 Failing to make a strong case for why you are the best person for this job. In an interview, you cannot be humble or arrogant, but you have to be bold and proactive at the same time.  I see many people who knows why they would be qualified for the job, but they fall shy of making a strong case for why they are the best person for the job.  Only one person will get this job.  Being qualified in this market is not good enough.  Make sure you know the answer to this exact question and present it in the interview.  Because if you don’t, how can the interviewer choose you?
  2. #22. Failing to listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying. Many people know this in theory, but it’s pretty hard to follow in practice.  We are usually so busy trying to talk about qualifications and worried about how the interview is going , we forget to listen to the exact question the interviewer is asking or listen to the unspoken concerns in the way interviewer asked the question.  Many very qualified people may not do well in interviews for this exact reason.  They may have done all the research and have the experience, but often they can jump the gun at what they ASSUME the interviewer is asking based on all the practice and forget to LISTEN.  If you are interviewed by your potential future boss, this is a very red flag – thinking you will be hard to manage.  Make sure you understand the question asked before answering.  It’s okay to clarify the question before answering.  Listen, listen, listen…
  3. #31. Saying “you know,” “like,” “I guess,” and “um.” Again this sounds trivial, but if your every day speech includes these words, you may no longer know you are doing it.   You will end up sounding hesitant, tentative and too casual without meaning to and you won’t even know why you didn’t do well.  The only way to know if to practice with a friend and/or in front of a camera.  Refer to my post on Interview tip – practice makes perfect for more ideas on how to practice
  4. 40. Complaining about anything! My favorite most common mistake!  You will be amazed how many people complain about the job search process these days DIRECTLY to their interviewer.  Sure, the interview can be delayed by 30 minute or canceled or the interviewer can look distracted or the recruiter forgot to call back.  All these things happen especially in this tough market where there is an overwhelming number of applicants.  It’s an EMPLOYER’S Market.  These behaviors may not be “fair” or “professional” but one sure way to not get a second interview is if you decide to “advise” them on how they can “improve” their interviewing process.  Before you complain about anything to your potential employer, you better be certain that you DON’T want a job there
  5. #50. Failing to ask for the job. Like #1 above, it’s important to be direct and make it easy for the company to choose you.  Near the conclusion of your interview, ask for the job.  Find a way to ask if they have any concerns about your qualifications so you can address them there.   Tell them parting comments about how enthusiastic you are about this position and  summarize why you are the best person for the job.  Then after the interview,  send thank you notes restating your enthusiasm and qualifications.  Follow up in a few days on next steps.  It pays to be proactive and direct as long as you are professional.

Hope these tips help!  Good luck out there!

– Lei

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