Have You Made Any of These 7 Deadly Job Interview Sins?
By Pete Leibman
1. You are not well-prepared. The job is won or lost before the interview begins, based on your preparation.
2. You have not taken the steps necessary to control your anxiety. It's normal to be nervous in a job interview. While some people will naturally get more nervous than others, you can control and reduce your anxiety by being well-prepared, practicing ahead of time, looking your best, showing up early, and so on.
3. You are not professional at all times. I won't list all the possible ways you could be unprofessional. Let's just say that you can blow your chances of getting hired in the first three seconds you meet someone. Make sure you have confident body language, your breath is fresh, and that you don't have any body odor or smell like smoke. Make sure you are nicely groomed. Turn your cell phone off before the interview. Don't say anything that could damage your chances. Don't volunteer more information than is needed. Never let your guard down. And...don't be weird! Seriously. One of my friends started her own business recently, and she told me of all sorts of bizarre ways that people showed up and acted in interviews. She said it was amazing how hard it was to find someone who was "normal."
4. You give the interviewer too much credit. First of all, do not make the person interviewing you into some almighty king or queen. When I interviewed with an NBA team president as a college student, I talked to her like an equal, and she respected me for that. Secondly, do not assume the interviewer knows what he or she is doing. I conducted interviews for a previous employer and I had no training, and none of my colleagues did either! This happens more often than you might think, and more often than any employer will publicly admit. Lastly, do not assume the interviewer is familiar with your background. I once interviewed with a senior executive when I was in the process of leaving my job in the NBA. I showed up with a professional portfolio with the logo of the team I used to work for on it. The interviewer said, "Oh, are you a big fan of theirs or something?" I replied, "Well, yes, I work for the team." He said "Oh, wow, that must be very cool." The guy had clearly not even read my résumé or cover letter at all!
5. You do not know how to sell yourself. Don't assume credentials will speak for themselves. It is your responsibility to prove to the employer why you are the best person for the job. Selling yourself is not bragging about how great you are. The best ways to sell yourself are by asking great questions, sharing stories and examples that demonstrate why you have the traits and skills needed for success in the position, and closing the interview strong. You can finish strong by asking for the job while recapping why you are the best candidate.
6. You are not likeable. Another reason why interviews exist is because employers hire people they like. The most qualified candidate is not always the person who gets the job. Treat every person with respect. If you are rude to the secretary, you are not getting hired. Don't badmouth anyone or be negative. Don't be a robot; include humor when appropriate. You have to be enthusiastic and friendly during the entire interview process. Note: if you have to fake enthusiasm, that's a sign you should not be interviewing with the organization. If you can't get excited for one hour about the possibility of working for the employer, do you really think you will be excited working for the organization 40-50 hours a week?
7. You don't bring your "A" game throughout the entire process. The interview process begins the moment you come in contact with someone who could potentially refer you or hire you. Treat every career conversation like an interview, because every career conversation is an interview. Once you get into the formal interview process, bring your "A" game at all times. I remember going through a series of four back-to-back interviews with a Fortune 100 company when I was in college. I asked most of my questions in the first interview, and one or two more in the second interview. In the third interview, I asked no questions at all, somehow thinking that the first two interviewers would tell the third interviewer about all the brilliant questions I asked earlier. The third interviewer even threw me a bone by telling me it would be good to ask some questions, and I replied by saying that I already asked my questions earlier in the day. Big mistake! Even if you ask the exact same questions with each person you meet, that's better than asking none. Treat each interview as if it is your only chance to make a great impression. You want each person you meet (including secretaries) to be sold on hiring you because you never know who has the final say. It only takes one person being adamant against hiring you for you to lose a job offer.
About the Author
PETE LEIBMAN is a career expert and professional speaker. He is also the president of Idealize Enterprises. He can be contacted at Pete@IdealizeNow.com, by visiting www.IdealizeNow.com, or at www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman. His blog is available at http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com. To receive a FREE, 25-page report on "Job Search and Career Success Secrets," visit Leibman's website at www.IdealizeNow.com.