Avoid These 4 Mistakes in Job Interviews

Avoid These 4 Mistakes in Job Interviews

It’s easy to overprepare or underprepare for a job interview, and career coaching can help you strike the right balance. Here are four mistakes to avoid if you want to properly prepare with the least amount of stress.

Mistake No. 1: Trying to prepare answers to all the questions you can imagine

There is no end to questions. Some are common: “Tell me about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Others are not. If you look on websites with helpful lists of questions, you are likely to find 20, 30, 50 or more questions – most of them pretty good. But forget about that.

Instead, focus mostly on preparing a few, solid, relevant stories showing how you work and succeed. These few stories showing different aspects of your personality and skills can be used to answer lots of questions. Just make sure there are stories for key categories of questions.

Mistake No. 2: Not having questions to ask about the specific company

If you can’t name the company’s products or services and come up with a few questions about them or about the company, your apparent lack of interest will result in a very real lack of job offers.

Recently, a client mentioned a few key points about a tech company’s key product. The interviewer then proceeded to quiz her to see if she could answer questions about the product that a customer might ask. She knew it all. She got the job. It wasn’t a very hard thing to do. All she had done was read through the company’s website. Not too much to expect from a potential employee.

Mistake No. 3: Thinking it’s all about you

The opposite is true. Yes, you want to come off as wonderful. But wonderful means you are meeting the needs of the people in the company. That’s right. It’s all about THEM. What do they need? How can you benefit them more than the other zillion applicants?

This relates back to overcoming Mistake No. 2 and knowing about the company. Then you can say how you will help solve some of its problems or challenges (backed up by proof using one of the stories you prepared as mentioned in how to overcome Mistake No. 1).

Mistake No. 4: Thinking interviews are all about having the right answers

Your resume and cover letter probably had enough of the right answers in the sense of showing you possess the right requirements. Now is the time to focus on making a strong personal or emotional connection with your interviewers. If you can answer all the questions intelligently but seem distant or disinterested, you won’t be hired. You need to relate to the people as people.

The content, while very important, is still secondary to showing you are a person whom people will want to be with and work with 40 or more hours a week. Research has shown repeatedly that people make decisions based on emotions and then create reasons afterward to justify the decisions they already made.

Bottom line: If you know about the company and can be personable and show your natural enthusiasm through stories people can relate to, you'll stand out from the other candidates (even the ones who've memorized the answers to 50 different interview questions).  

About this Experts Contributor: The founder of Beard Avenue Career Coaching, Leonard Lang offers resume services and career and life coaching in Minneapolis. For 17 years he has successfully helped people determine and land their ideal careers and jobs. You can follow this contributor on Twitter and Google+.

As of  November 17, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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