Are you making these job interview mistakes?

by Betty Lochner on May 10, 2012

Here’s my fourth installment in my “Getting a job after college” series, dedicated to my daughter and graduates everywhere finding themselves suddenly in the job market.  Whether you are a college grad or not,  I think you’ll find these communication strategies helpful in your job search.

So, far I’ve written about job search tips, how to make a good first impression, and additional ways to find a job. Now, it’s time to focus on the interview process.

Let’s start with preparation.  

I have been a manager of state programs for over 20 years and have held countless interviews for jobs at all levels.  I’ve watched some talented people miss the mark by making some basic mistakes. Here are four of the most common job interview mistakes and how you can avoid making them.

1. Expect a crowd.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming it will be a one-on-one interview. 

There may be more people than you expect in the room. The days of interviewing with just one person are over. Even for entry level positions, I often have an interview group that include one person from each work group, human resource reps, stakeholders and/or other partners. Or, I have shorter interviews with a variety of groups. Be ready for anything.

2. Do your homework.

Don’t forget to research what organization you are applying for – and remember the full name (not just the acronym).

I am always amazed when candidates don’t appear to have done their homework and are not prepared for basic questions about the organization and position they are applying for. I once asked a candidate what he knew about our program and he pulled out a brochure and read it to me! Find out as much as you can about the organization and the position. 

3. Practice.

Don’t show up unprepared, frazzled, confused, or unprepared.  Have a pen and paper, an extra resume, and be ready to roll.

Take some time to think about what interview questions may be asked and rehearse your answers. Try your responses out on someone you trust to give you some honest feedback. Ask everyone you know to give you a challenging or unusual interview question to practice. Approach the interview like you are preparing for a presentation. The more you know about your subject, the more comfortable you will be in the interview

4. Be true to yourself.

Don’t try to be the candidate you think they want. 

Be yourself in the interview. It’s the best way have a good experience and to feel good about how you did. Answer questions honestly and don’t try to be someone you aren’t.  We want the real deal!  If you let your personality shine you have a better chance of standing out from others and getting a job that is a good fit for you.  Most hiring managers are looking as much or more for a good fit for the team as they are for the required skill set. 

What are your favorite interview tips?  Please do share in the comments below!

Next week, I’ll share my top secret favorite interview questions!  


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. It’s also now available on Kindle!

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