Avoiding interview blunders

Interviewing is one of the most important steps in the recruiting proces. It allows the employer to see you in action and ask additional questions about your qualifications, skills and ensure a good fit within their culture. As a jobseeker, you’ve made it past the first barrier – the dreaded phone screen – and are now waiting in the batter’s box. Don’t blow it when you get to the plate!

1. Be Prepared – Really? Do we have to say it again? Preparation is everything! Find out as much as possible before the interview not only about the company but the interviewer and/or hiring manager as well. Go above and beyond all other candidates who will just review the company website. Search the company twitter page, LinkedIn page, ask current employees about the dress code and intricacies of the culture that you wouldn’t glean from a company website. Is it a public company? Then research their financials.  Come prepared with intelligent questions about your role and the organization. An applicant that I met with went so far as to visit all the branches of a credit union across the state of Colorado and asked the employees what they loved about the organization and what they would change. She was armed with incredible data, research and questions to bring to her interview.

2. Find out More about the Hiring Manager/Interviewer – This directly aligns with being prepared but take the next step and find out a bit more about what type of person you are interviewing with – are they direct, detail oriented or someone who enjoys small talk? Adjust your interview style to meet these small personality characteristics. This allows you to build rapport quickly and demonstrate your fit.

3. Dress Appropriately – I mentioned earlier that you should research the type of dress code and, armed with that information, always dress one step up from the official or unofficial dress code of the organization for an interview. If employees wear jeans every day to work or practice business casual, show up to the interview in a business jacket or sport coat and slacks. Your physical presence is the first thing that an interviewer judges. Take the time to brush your hair and bring your very best.

4. W.A.I.T – Is an acronym that we most often use in our coaching approach. When you find yourself rambling on in an interview setting, stop and ask yourself, “Why Am I Talking?” In situations of stress and uncomfortable pauses we tend to fill the silence with ramblings and talk ourselves right out of a position. Answer the question and stop talking. If you begin to feel uncomfortable and tempted to fill the void, ask a clarifying question, “Did that answer your question?” or “Would you like me to tell you more about that problem/solution?”

5. Get Loose – We tend to get stiff or make awkward movements in an interview setting. We put our hands in odd positions; begin stuttering and some of us even start to rock in our chairs. It’s okay to bring out a folder or writing pad with prepared questions and copies of your resume. Bring a pen to take down a few notes or answers to your questions. If you get the chance, video tape yourself in an interview setting before game day. You will notice your odd intricacies that only come out in stressful situations. Stay professional in your approach but remember that this is a two way dialogue. Don’t be afraid to say, “That’s a great question. Let me think about that.” Then glance down at your resume or notes. Then continue, “oh right, let me tell you about a time when I solved this challenge in my previous position . . .”

6.  Millennial’s:  Leave Mom at Home. According to The Center of Generational Studies, Millennial’s are getting their parents involved in the interview process. Either accompanying the child to the interview or calling later to negotiate the job offer.  Leave mom or dad at home. Use your parents as a resource to help you prepare and research but when it comes to the interview stand on your own two feet. The more prepared you are – the more confident you will be and won’t need your parent along for the ride. Mom/Dad – back off. Your involvement in an interview will only reflect poorly on your child’s ability to hold a job, think critically and make their own decisions, all key characteristics of a good job applicant.