Bad interview mistakes
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6 interview mistakes you’re making and how to fix them

1 Feb 2017

Are you striking out in your job interviews? You could be making one of these common mistakes without even realising it.

Job interviews can be tough. No matter how prepared you might be or how confident you might feel, even the best candidates can make silly interview mistakes.

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing wrong in your interviews, especially if you’ve had more than one rejection. Are you rubbing your interviewers up the wrong way? Are you saying something that reflects negatively on you?

Leela Srinivasan is the chief marketing officer at Lever, a San Francisco-based recruitment software company used by more than 1,200 companies globally. Here, she tells us the six most common interview mistakes that jobseekers make and how to watch out for them in your next interview.

Rambling on without answering the question

Watch your interviewer’s body language. If they appear restless or distracted, pause. Are you guilty of delivering a disjointed monologue that didn’t hit the mark?

If so, call yourself out, say that you realise you’re a bit off track just because you’re excited, and then answer the actual question that you were asked.

Talking too negatively about past employers

No one wants to hire someone who does nothing but complain about their past situation and co-workers. It suggests they feel like a victim and don’t hold themselves accountable for anything that was less than perfect.

If you catch yourself griping too much mid-interview, find a way to balance your feedback: ‘On the plus side, I learned …’ or, ‘While not everything was perfect there, I did gain an understanding of …’.

Only talking about what you’ll get out of the role

Of course, you’re entitled to make a career move because it benefits you in some way – but if your answer to the question, ‘Why are you interested in this role?’, talks only about personal gain, that won’t build a convincing case for you.

Instead of, ‘I’ll learn a lot, I want a customer-facing role’, you should say something like: ‘I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of addressing customer problems and finding solutions, especially in an organisation that provides ABC value to customer’. In other words, make hiring you sound like a win-win for the company.

You messed up one of the questions

Have you ever left an interview kicking yourself about one of the questions because you felt you either didn’t answer appropriately, or left out some key details?

It’s perfectly in order to send a really good thank you note to the hiring manager or interviewer including more details eg, ‘I’m still thinking about your question regarding X. I forgot to mention this at the time, but in my prior role, I …’.

Sounding arrogant

It will depend on the company culture, but at most organisations, arrogance will not be viewed favourably by interviewers. I once had a candidate boast that he was “an unbelievably good people manager … just excellent”, which, in the absence of any supporting facts, immediately made me suspicious that he was blind to his own flaws and not necessarily in touch with reality.

If you say something that comes off as arrogant, balance it as soon as possible with a remark that shows you have humility. The counter to the above statement might be: ‘Of course, people management is really challenging, but rewarding. It takes a lot of work, and I’m always looking for ways to improve’.

Not having any questions at the end

As a hiring manager at Lever, I pay a lot of attention to the questions a candidate asks at the conclusion of an interview. Candidate questions are a window into what’s important to them, as well as a reflection both of how well they’ve listened throughout the interview, and how deeply they’ve thought about [the company] in preparation for the day. I personally find the total lack of questions a turn-off.

Always walk into an interview with two or three things you want to ask. If for some reason your mind goes blank, your next best bet might be: ‘I know I will have questions when I’ve had the chance to reflect on this. Do you mind if I follow up via email?’ Then leave the interview, but follow up the same day with two really thoughtful questions.

By Leela Srinivasan

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