Job interviews are challenging, demanding and in some cases pressurised situations. There are going to be times when securing the role whether it that next step up the ladder or a major step into your first leadership role is going to be something you really want.
Of course there is a lot that you can do to increase your chances of success. By the same token there are some common mistakes that you might be making that are getting in the way of a favourable outcome. So how many of the following mistakes are you making at job interviews?
Mistake 1: Blowing it before you even get along to the interview
The landscape of job interviews has changed. A small proportion of candidates prepare really well for job interviews. The majority fail to prepare anything like enough for job interviews.
Think about it. This is a major investment decision for an employer. They are not going to make a major investment in you if you cannot even make the effort to do a bit of preparation ahead of the interview.
In my view and in my experience you can never over prepare for interviews. Even the best prepared candidate is going to have to deal with tricky questions. This will be tough but still much easier than having to think on your feet in response to every question.
Mistake 2: Failing to make a good first impression
You only get one chance to make a positive first impression. You might wonder who you need to make a good first impression on. The answer is the first person you interact with as soon as you walk into the building.
Very often those who are doing the interviews will ask a receptionist or PA about how you came across initially when you arrived. These are people who are experienced in meeting and greeting new people so they are usually good judges of people. That’s why they are asked for their views.
So if you want to make the right first impression, make sure that you are in the zone from the minute you walk into the building.
Mistake 3: Failing to pass the 30 second test
Some claim that less experienced interviewers make up their minds in the first 30 seconds whether a candidate will be successful. They then spend the remainder of the interview gathering evidence to support their initial gut feel.
Now whether this right or wrong, fair or unfair you have to be ready just in case. Ultimately this means a good confident answer to the first question they ask. In most situations this will be a good open question about you, about your experience or what you know about the organisation.
Giving a confident response to this initial question will help you in two ways. It will create a positive view of you and will also help you to relax very early on.
Mistake 4: Answering the wrong question
When I am interviewing people, I never cease to be amazed how often people answer a completely different question to the one that I asked. Now there will be times when the way a question is asked will make it a bit of a guessing game.
Yet often the treason why people answer the wrong question is simply down to not listening well enough. Really make a point of paying attention to the interviewer. And if you are unclear about the question, ask for clarification.
Mistake 5: Adopting a winner-loser mentality
So often candidates go into job interviews thinking and feeling like the power is all with the recruiter. Now of course they have a job that needs filled. At the same time having a role to fill and matching it to the people available is tougher than you might think.
An interview really is a two way decision. It is about the recruiter determining if you are the right person and you determining if it is the right role for you. By going into the interview with the mindset of it being an exploratory discussion which might lead to a decision, you move away from the win-lose mentality.
Mistake 6: You present yourself as being perfect
In any job interview there are going to be questions that are designed to learn about you and how self aware you are. The classic one is what are you weaknesses?
If you want to present yourself as being perfect, you might be tempted to say that you don’t have any. If you do this the interview is going to be saying to themselves that have someone in front of them who lacks self awareness.
We all have weaker areas. We may wish that we were great at everything but none of us are. We all have areas where we excel and areas where we struggle. In the interview you want to be revealing weaker areas that will show self awareness but not expose a huge flaw that will set alarm bells ringing in the interviewers mind.
Mistake 7: You lose your cool
The further you go in your career the tougher the questions are going to be. If you are going to in a leadership or management role you are going to have to be pretty resilient.
During the interview the interviewer is going to want to test your resilience. Asking tough questions and seeing how you respond is one very effective way of doing this.
The most important thing to do is to remain calm and keep your composure. If you rise to the bait it is all over.
The Bottom Line: Interviews are challenging and rightly so. At the same time by avoiding the above mistakes you can increase your chances of being successful.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professionals achieve more career success. He invites you to sign up for his free report, The 7 Biggest Barriers To A Successful Career In Accountancy.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.