The biggest mistake at a job interview (and the one question you will always be asked)
Let’s face it, no matter how great your resume is, it’s really your performance in the interview that will get you the job. And the sad thing is, it’s often the most avoidable mistakes that hurt your chances the most. In a survey of over 2,000 employers, nearly half (47%) said that the most common mistake that candidates make in a job interview is having little or no knowledge about the company.
Nowadays, when just about everyone carries a powerful computer in their pocket, there’s no excuse for this. In fact, we recently wrote about the different ways you can research companies that go beyond simply Googling. Start by reading their website, and see if they are mentioned in articles on other sites or in news stories. Talk to people in your network, and on social platforms, who may have company or industry knowledge. Think about what the future of the industry is and what the challenges of the job might be. Employers are always more impressed with candidates who are knowledgeable about their company and who can show why they want to work for them specifically, especially if you can explain how your skills and experience can help overcome those challenges.
The only way to successfully do this is to know as much as possible about the job, the company, and the industry in advance. This way you can tailor your responses, practicing how to describe past work experience and accomplishments in a way that is relevant to the employer. Everything you say should be framed in this way: “Here’s what I have achieved in the past, therefore here is what I can do for you…”
But don’t just research the company
This same survey revealed that one third (33%) of employers know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether or not they will hire someone. It’s in those opening seconds of the job interview that you will be asked the most common question of all: “So, tell me about yourself.”
This ice-breaking question is your chance to introduce yourself. The thing is, it’s not really about you. It’s about your candidacy. Yes, they want to know if your personality is a good fit for their company, but more than anything, they want to know that you can handle the job.
Your answer, therefore, should focus on your professional experience and interests, and anything that shows you are the right candidate for the role. It’s not, however, the time to recite your CV. Think of it as a quick recap of who you are in a professional sense – an elevator pitch of your career. Yeah, it might be interesting if your hobbies include basket weaving and writing fan fiction, but this isn’t relevant here. Do your homework to understand what you think they’ll want to hear, then keep refining your elevator pitch until you have a clear, succinct answer.
Key takeaway: Be prepared for your job interview
The biggest mistake in a job interview is not being prepared. You might be able to successfully wing it every now and again, but it’s best to actually know what you’re talking about. Not only will this help organize your thoughts, it will also help calm any nerves you might have. So once you get the call for an interview, find out as much as you can about the company, and use that research to your advantage, especially for that all too common question (that you know is coming).
Do your homework and get that job!