The Ten Greatest Mistakes Made in Job Interviews

You’ve perfected your resume, found a great job listing, and landed your dream interview. Now what? Here are 10 tips for making your interview a success. Just remember these things NOT to do:

I. Going after large organizations only (such as the Fortune 500).

II. Hunting all by yourself for places to visit, using ads and résumés.

III. Doing no homework on an organization before going there.

IV. Allowing the Personnel Department (or Human Resources) to interview you-their primary function is to screen you OUT.

V. Setting no time limit when you make the appointment with an organization.

VI. Letting your resume be used as the agenda for the job-interview.

VII. Talking primarily about yourself, and what benefit the job will be for you.

VIII. When answering a question of theirs, talking anywhere from two to fifteen minutes at a time.

IX. Basically approaching them as if you were a job beggar, hoping they will offer you a job, however humble.

X. Not sending a thank-you note right after the interview.

An interview resembles dating, more than it does buying a used car (you). An interview is two people trying to decide if they want “to go steady.”

An interview is not to be thought of as marketing yourself: i.e., selling yourself to a half-interested employer. Rather, an interview is part of your research, i.e., the data-collecting process that you have been engaged in, or should have been engaged in, during your whole job-hunt.

While you are sitting there, with the employer, the question you are trying to find an answer to is: “Do I want to work here, or not?” You use the interview to find out. Only when you have concluded, Yes, do you then turn your energy toward selling yourself.

An interview is not to be thought of as a test. It’s a data-collecting process for the employer, too. They are still trying to decide if you fit. They are using the interview to find out “Do I want him or her to work here? Do they have skills, knowledge, or experience that I really need? Do they have an attitude toward work, that I am looking for? And, how will they fit in with my other employees?”

An interview is best prepared for, before you go in, by taking these three steps:

  1. Research the organization or company, before going in. Go to their website if they have one, and read everything there that is “About Us.” Ask your local librarian for help in finding any news clippings or other information about the place. And finally, ask all your friends if they know anyone who ever worked there, or works there still, so you can take them to lunch or tea or Starbucks and find out any inside stories. All organizations love to be loved. If you’ve gone to all this trouble, to find out as much as possible about them, they will be flattered and impressed, believe me, because most job-hunters never go to this amount of trouble…
  2. When setting up an interview, specify the time you need. Experts recommend you only ask for twenty minutes, and observe this commitment religiously. Once you’re into the interview, stay aware of the time, and don’t stay one minute longer than the twenty minutes, unless the employer begs you to-and I mean, begs. Always respond with, “I said I would only take twenty minutes of your time, and I like to honor my agreements.” This will always make a big impression on an employer!
  3. As you go to the interview, keep in mind that the person-who-has-the-power-to-hire-you is sweating, too. Why? Because, the hiring-interview is not a very reliable way to choose an employee… [T]he hiring-interview is not a science. It is a very, very hazy art, done badly by most of its employer-practitioners, in spite of their own past experience, their very best intentions, and their carloads of goodwill.

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