Interviewing is an artform to be developed, especially in these challenging times. As jobs are being added, it is opening up more opportunities for people to become employed or to change jobs. Employers are still looking for quality hires, which means the job search needs to be focused and consistent. But how prepared are you to go through the interview process? Today’s employers are asking tougher questions in order to challenge and weed out potential job candidates; they want to see how well a candidate does under pressure, what traits and experiences they will bring to the job, and are sizing them up to see if they are a “fit” for the organization.
I find a lot of people very unprepared to get in front of an employer. Here are five blunders I see people make – check to see if you make these same mistakes so you can correct them:
1. Not being prepared – this means that you can’t answer questions about yourself; your resume is not current, doesn’t highlight your accomplishments, is not in a good format or has typos. How would you act if you got a call for an interview the next day – would you be ready?
2. Not entering the room well – this means that you come in very casually or scared; you don’t shake hands or have a limp handshake; you may joke or laugh in nervousness. The way you enter the room and greet the interviewer sets the stage for the rest of the time spent. An impression is made in the first 20 seconds so make the most of it. Smile, have a firm handshake – put yours out first, and wait for the interviewer to ask you in and where to sit. Stand tall and be confident.
3. Not sitting well – this means that you either are too stiff, wring your hands, play with your hair or your pen, look away or not at all – you can just sense the discomfort; OR you are too casual, sitting back in the chair with your arm on the back, or crossing your leg – you seem too comfortable. When you are in front of a potential employer, act confident but respectful – smile, be enthusiastic, sit with your hips toward the back but leaning towards the interviewer; mirror their actions and take your cue from them.
4. Giving away too much information – this means that you overtell personal information, such as your age, marital status, children, financial difficulties, being fired, negative comments about past employers or coworkers or a host of other facts that will open a door you don’t want to enter. These all give reasons for employers to not hire you. Stay focused on the facts of your skills, past experiences and how you will add value to the organization.
5. Not ending the interview well – this means that you don’t ask questions, don’t ask for the next steps or for the job. It also means that you don’t shake the interviewers hand and ensure that you are leaving with a good impression. Turn those around for what needs to be done.
These are the main mistakes I see job seekers make but there are many more. When you’re competing with others for a job, one little mistake can make the difference to getting a second interview or getting hired. Take the time to ensure that you are fully prepared in all areas. Practice interviewing. If you’re not feeling confident, hire a career coach who can help you get prepared. Give yourself the opportunity to stand out among the crowd and hear “you’re hired!”