It’s a potential life-changing event—yet so many people get it wrong. I’m talking about going for an interview for a position you really want; one that could have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life.
So, why is it that so many prospective employees don’t seem to grasp the essentials of getting the interviewer to fall in love with them and make a commitment to hire them?
While building successful businesses I’ve had the opportunity to conduct many interviews. Let me share with you 10 common faults I’ve identified from that experience. Avoid them if you really want to get the exciting job of your dreams.
1. Don’t Be Unprepared
First of all…don’t make the mistake of going into an interview without researching the industry, the company, the boss, and as much as you can about the specific position. If someone tells me they’re at the interview to learn about my company, that’s a total turn-off.
The interviewee should have gone out of his way to become knowledgeable and find out in advance everything he could about the enterprise he wants to work for. There are so many online resources today; it’s not something that’s hard to do. It shows that the candidate is serious about wanting the position. Part of being prepared is also making sure you don’t arrive late for the interview. That’s inexcusable. Shoot to get to the appointment way ahead of time just in case there are unexpected delays.
2. Don’t Go Casual
You must create a good first impression. And that starts with the first moment your interviewer sets eyes on you. At our company, we do not have a suit and tie dress code, but it’s disrespectful for a potential employee to stroll in wearing a torn T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. You’re attending a job interview—not a ball game.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
I like inquisitive people. I like people who want to learn. And I actually like people who challenge me. So don’t forget that an interview is a two-way street. I’m trying to find out if you’ll fit in with the rest of my rock stars and what kind of dynamite contribution you can make to our success; hopefully, you’re curious about the people with whom you’ll be working, the Company’s culture, exactly what is going to be demanded of you—and the potential for growth within the company.
I’m going to be investing in you—so I want someone who’s going to make a commitment and be with us long-term. Please don’t forget that.
4. Don’t Use Clichés
I’ve heard them all. “I’m a problem-solver.” “I’m a real team player.” “I’m a perfectionist.” I don’t need to hear general descriptions of how great you are (especially those clichés). I do want to hear specific examples of your successes and who the inner you is. What character in any relationship do you value the most? What was the highest moment in your life and the most struggling? How did you react and prosper?
5. Don’t Trash Your Current Employer
You may well be unhappy at your current company. I don’t need to hear it. If you speak ill of your current employer what’s to say you won’t speak ill of me? Don’t bring any trash talk from your job into the interview. Saying you didn’t always see eye to eye is one thing; it may well show that you can think for yourself, especially if you can quote a positive element. One way or another it was a learning experience! But don’t harp on petty disputes or air any dirty laundry. Don’t trash talk anyone. You don’t want to gain a reputation for negativity.
6. Don’t Be Fake
There’s always the temptation to “play to the gallery” when you’re being interviewed. You’re inclined to tell the interviewer exactly what you think he wants to hear rather than exactly how you feel. OK. So it’s stressful and you want the job really badly. And maybe you even exaggerate your experience a little bit. My advice is to be real. Presenting a “fake you” and hyped credentials is not going to serve you in the long haul. Truth has a way of finding its way out.
7. Don’t Chit Chat
Never forget that this is an interview for a job. Be professional. Be business-like. This is not the forum to share intimate details of your personal life, the ups and downs of your marriage, or your recent break-up. It is the forum to discuss why you want the job and how you will be an asset to the company.
8. Don’t Be Evasive
A good interviewer will ask plenty of direct questions. Be ready to provide direct answers. Honesty is the best policy. A good interviewer will watch your body language and inflection of voice for any telltale evasions.
9. Don’t Talk Money
There’s a time and a place to discuss salary, bonuses, and perks of the job. And it’s not at the initial interview unless it’s something the interviewer raises. Your compensation package is obviously a matter for major discussion—when you know you’re going to get offered something. Then you can always negotiate from a position of strength.
10. Don’t Just Walk Away
At the end of the interview don’t simply say “thanks for your consideration” and depart—and that’s the end of it. If you want the position make it clear that you’re interested before you leave and try to find out the company’s level of interest in you. Say something like, “This sounds like an ideal position for me. Is there a fit here?” and “What’s our next step?”
Your next step, regardless, is to follow up. The same day. A brief, polite email thanking the interviewer for his consideration and reiterating your desire for the job is not only proper etiquette but also shows that you really want it. I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t follow up. But it happens.
Going for an interview is one of the most important (and challenging) events in anyone’s life. Don’t treat it casually if are serious about being part of a winning team. It’s your first chance to shine. Don’t make it your last chance.
Most of all, especially if you’re young, take risks and interview for the places that you can call a career – not a job. Life’s too short to be aiming for a 9 to 5.