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Four Interview Mistakes and How to Fix Them for Next Time

Have you ever wanted to get an interview redo, a meeting mulligan? Unlike the advice you get from tech support you can’t reboot a bad interview. The best advice is to learn from your mistakes and do things differently moving forward. Here are some thoughts on four common interview mistakes and how to avoid them next time.

Low E

Low energy is great for appliances but bad for interviews. If you ever leave a meeting thinking, “That was kind of blah,” imagine how the interviewer felt. They were probably planning what to have for lunch half way through your discussion. So what to do?

Always get jacked up for the meeting. If you don’t have some butterflies in your stomach you either don’t want the job or you died yesterday. Do your homework, imagine what it would be like to work there, read about the culture and get excited about the company and the role. Let that excitement come across in your meeting.

Unfortunately, sometimes life conspires against you. Maybe the game the evening before went late, the kids got up in the middle of the night, the dog had to be let out at the crack of dawn or maybe you ate too much for lunch. Regardless, you’re logy and just can’t get your head in the game.

Trick yourself into being excited and ready to go with a little caffeine. Just time it well and don’t have too much. Or play your favorite song in your car or on the train with your headphones. Whatever strategy you use to get jazzed-up, it will help you pop right up with a big smile and a confident handshake when the manager comes to greet you.

The manager isn’t a medium

Most questions asked in an interview aren’t yes or no. If you answered that way you definitely left the interviewer wanting more. They may not know if you can do the job. Make sure you give examples of what you did and how you did it. “Yes I did that,” is not the answer. “Yes, and as example this is what I did,” is more like it.

Be specific, be detailed and be concise. Most importantly, ask if you answered their question. Most people don’t interview for a living, so there may be things they want to know but don’t know how to ask. Help them by making sure they learn what you want them to know about you.

So, how did you do?

If we can only give one piece of advice, it’s to ask what they thought of you at the end of the interview. This may not sound like the worst of interview mistakes, but if you don’t find out if they have any reservations about you, how will you ever be able to address them and assuage their concerns? Practice, and find a way that feels comfortable for you. Here are some examples:

  • “Based on our conversation today, can you see me in this position?”
  • “Have I answered all of your questions, or do you have any concerns about me or my background?”
  • “Do you have any questions that would help my candidacy for this role?”

They may not be completely honest with you, but if they like you and have a small nagging concern this is a great opening for them to dig deeper and for you to assure them.

And, for pity’s sake, please let them know how interested in the position you are and how much you would like to work there. We can’t tell you how many times we have heard, “I liked them and think they can do the job, but I’m just not sure they wanted it.”

Um, what?

Interviewing for a job isn’t an everyday practice for most of us so it is very likely you will make a mistake in one of your meetings. You’ll probably even know it as it is happening, and it will be like a car wreck you can’t stop. Maybe you misstated something, omitted a fact or used the wrong word. Maybe you started off in a good direction but got lost along the way. Regardless, short of insulting them personally, you can fix it as simply as sending them a follow-up email. There is no shame in sending a note saying, “I was thinking about our conversation and I realized I…” Call it out, address it, thank them again for their time and reiterate how much you want the job.

Interviewing for a job can be an up and down process. The key to success is recognizing your interview mistakes and making changes so you won’t do them again.

Photo credit: Forbes


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