Most people do not prepare properly for an interview. A lot of time, energy and money are spent in preparation for the chance to have an interview meeting with a prospective employer. However, little to no preparation is done for the interview itself. Most professionals spend an incredible amount of time preparing their resume, and even make a considerable investment to have their resumes prepared by skilled professionals so as to increase their chances of getting the interview. Ironically, many of these same professionals will then spend minimal time or investment in making certain that their interview skills are fine tuned.
Dear job seeker here is 25 years of collective business experience and wisdom boiled down into this piece of advice. Don’t prepare for the interview, IF you don’t want the JOB!
Having an employer ask you to interview is not the ultimate goal; it’s the second to last step in the overall job search process. The candidate interview is only one of several steps along the way. Being the very best candidate during the interview will typically result in the candidate landing that dream job offer. Many professionals make the same mistakes during the job search process. Amazingly, these well educated, highly skilled and experienced professionals keep repeating the same mistake and yet, expect different results or outcomes from candidate interviews. Often professionals treat the interview as something that is a forgone conclusion. Somehow the confusion develops from thinking that the interview is the same as the job offer, let me reassure everyone taking a few minutes to read this article, in a word WRONG! So, if your goal is not landing the job of your dreams, then all you have to do is make the same critical errors outlined for you below. I promise you that if you consistently make all of the common mistakes listed the only job you land is the one you don’t want; an eternity of searching for your next job.
Far more interviews are lost than won. There are things that will work to your advantage in an interview, and then again there are things that will absolutely kill your chances. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid, if you want that job. Your chances for success vastly improve by not doing what others do.
1. Don’t Conduct Any “Pre-Flight” Planning!
This is the single biggest mistake you can make. There is a direct correlation to preparation and performance. Many professionals are walking into their interviews ill-equipped and unprepared and expecting to make the right impression. These professional are not walking away from the interview with job offer and unfortunately become doomed to repeat the process until the lesson is learned.
Good preparation means doing intensive research so that you know what you need to know about the hiring authority, knowing your capabilities and what you specifically can offer the hiring authority in the position they seek to fill. You must prepare and then practice so as to be able to respond to nearly any question thrown in your direction.
2. Don’t Be Dynamic, Be Passive During The Interview!
You do not need to conduct the interview. However, this is your time to shine. You are in the spotlight. It’s your opportunity to prove that you are the best candidate. It is not the interviewer’s job to pull the information from you. Many people mistakenly believe that it’s up to the hiring authority’s interviewer to figure out if you’re the best candidate. As the candidate, it is your responsibility to make the interviewer aware of your capabilities and why you are the best candidate to fill the open position.
Your goal is to make certain as you complete the interview, the interviewer knows all of your qualifications and how you will make positive and powerful contributions in your new position. By taking responsibility for your actions and accepting that you must convey your skills, experience, talent and persona in the most positive manner, it changes the way you prepare and how you conduct yourself during the interview. It separates your candidacy from the competition.
Often professionals “wing it” during the interview process. The problem is, if you do that you are leaving your career to chance and letting someone else take control of your destiny. If you want to succeed in an interview, you have to be proactive and think on your feet. An interview is the starting gate of a competitive race – there’s only one winner. You should be thinking about what you need to say and do during the interview to be recognized as the best candidate to fill the position. What does the interview seek to find in a candidate? What do they want to hear from me? How can I be the candidate they select? Don’t get caught up in the mindset of not preparing for the interview, think it through and plan for all possibilities so that you can beat the competition.
3. Why Make A Good First Impression? I Can Always Make A Second One, Right?
Wrong! Here’s the fact – it only takes a few minutes for the interviewer to assess his/her first impression of you. You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you make a great first impression, the interviewer will automatically look for more positive contributions throughout the remainder of the interview to justify their first impression. The reverse is true. If you make a bad first impression, the interviewer will look for bad things to justify their first impression. It is either a Win-Win or Lose-Lose proposition with no middle ground. Your first impression must be good. You must start out strong and maintain the strength.
Starting strong means greeting the interviewer with confidence, being personable, and conducting yourself professionally at all times. No matter how formal or informal the interviewer may appear during the interview process, you must exude confidence and professional demeanor.
Maintaining strength means nailing the first couple questions and all the subsequent questions thrown out at you. One of the most difficult questions can also be one of the easiest to answer. Most interviewers want to hear a strong answer to these four words, “tell me about yourself”. Often these four words may be the most important question asked during an interview. Consequently, the question becomes the most important one you need to know how to answer.
4. Value? Value? We Don’t Know Our Stinkin Value!
Knowing your specific value relative to the hiring authority is a big part of your preparation. More important is the ability to articulate your value in a concise, professional and intelligent manner. It boils down to good verbal and non-verbal communication skills. A couple of different ways to improve your communication skills in an interview: 1) prepare yourself – know your value, memorialize it through documentation and then practice. 2) ask for help -a professional sounding board being either a qualified (recruiter) friend or career professional, i.e., search recruiter or career coach, and 3) reflect on your self figuratively and also in the mirror (remember to smile and relax your words will flow smoothly) and then practice some more.
You will leap ahead of other the other competing candidates as they will most likely stumble their way through the interview process. You will be the coherent, articulate, intelligent candidate clearly expressing why you are the best choice. You’ll be remembered for all the right reasons unlike your competition.
5. Fake It Until You Make It?
Everyone going through a job search and interview process experiences a time when there may be at least one qualification that you don’t have – maybe its lack of industry experience, lack of a degree or a specific accreditation they’ve asked to see from you, it could be anything. If you do lack something they want or need, you need to be ready to address it and do so with confidence. Whatever you do always be direct and honest.
Unfortunately, during interviews we are often times screened out for something we lack rather than the other way around. So interviewers need to convinced that if you don’t have exactly what they seek, you can learn it quickly, or you’ll get it, or you have another skill that makes up for it. Don’t give them the opportunity to make a big deal out of something you lack…be poised and confident without showing any signs of being nervous. Find an answer that eliminates their concern and most likely they’ll select you based on what you can offer rather than eliminate you for something they deem important that you don’t possess.
Remember, a superior resume is valuable because it gets you the interview…but superior interviewing skills will get you the job! Improve your interviewing skills, learn the best practices and strategies to succeed, and you will consistently get the offers you want.
Wishing You All Job Search and Interviewing Success!