Five Deadly Interview Mistakes

man-300Going for a  job interview can be somewhat challenging to most people.  How do you go about preparing for an interview and making a  good first impression?  Research is always a good start ie. (research) the industry and the company.  Carl Wellenstein Career Advice Blog gives five great tips.

“Making a good impression on the job interview is as much about what not to do as what to do. Here’s how to avoid the most common deal-breakers.

By Carl Wellenstein

Attending an interview with the intent to impress the hiring manager is dangerous if you go about it in the wrong way. Below are the five most common mistakes you can make.

1. Thinking the interview is about you. In an effort to “get their message across,” some interviewees monopolize the conversation with long-winded responses, focusing on how they can enhance their skills and expand their experience.

What you really want is a balanced interview with you talking no more than 60% of the time. Keep in mind that the interviewers are not interested in enhancing your skills or broadening your experiences. They will be trying to assess whether you already possess the know-how they need and how well you might fit into the company’s organizational culture. When answering questions, limit your responses to two minutes. If they want you to give examples or provide other information, they’ll ask.

2. Failing to translate your skills and experience. You use words and examples that are common to your function or industry and assume interviewers will understand them or be able to translate them to applications in their industry.

Initial interviewers may not be familiar with the acronyms and terms specific to your previous jobs and, as a result, they might assume you communicate poorly with nontechnical people. Don’t expect your interviewers to translate your experience to apply to their industry. That will be your task. You need to use terms and analogous descriptions they will understand in the context of their industry or type of work.

3. Being unprepared. True, sometimes interviewers aren’t prepared themselves, but that doesn’t mean they’ll forgive you for the same mistake.

The obvious preparation: Research the company on the Internet and in the news and talk to someone who has some inside knowledge about the company. If it’s a publicly held company, check out annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC. The not-so-obvious preparation: Anticipate what they’ll be asking you about: your strengths and weaknesses, why you left your last company, why you chose your career path, and what your positive and negative work experiences have been.

4. Lacking candor. You can’t think of any personal weaknesses, you’ve overcome all your weaknesses, or you say you haven’t given it a lot of thought. Mistakes? Not you. You rose through the ranks and never made mistakes.

No one progresses in a career without making mistakes and learning from them. Trained interviewers will be looking to see if you readily acknowledge and admit your weaknesses and can describe mistakes you’ve made and what you learned from them. Adding a humorous story about a mistake you made, how others may have chided you about it afterward, and what you took away from the experience can endear you to an interviewer. When confronted with a tough interview question about your past, don’t give a measured response that sugarcoats reality, as interviewers will quickly see it as disingenuous.

5. Not asking any questions. The interview is coming to a close and the interviewer inquires as to whether you have any questions. You reply that you don’t, or you ask a few insignificant questions that you could have easily answered if you’d visited the Web site or knew anything about the company or its industry. Unless you’re the only qualified candidate, your job prospects with this company probably just ended.

Interviews are two-sided events. The employer wants to determine whether you’re the right person for the business, and you need to know if the employer is the right one for you. Always take a note pad with you when you go for an interview. Prepare your questions and write them on your note pad. You want the interviewer to see that you have questions.

Keep in mind there are only three things interviewers really want to know about you:

  • Do you have the right skills and experience to do the job we want done?
  • Do you have the personal characteristics that will fit in with our organization’s culture?
  • From what I hear you say, do I believe you’re telling me the truth?

Carl Wellenstein is an employment and career strategist located in Southern California and the author of 12 Steps to a New Career. He specializes in helping clients with mid-career advancement, expediting job changes, and switching careers. His Web site is found at”

Read my earlier blog post: Dressing for Success

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