You thought you aced that interview, so why didn’t you get an offer? Here are common mistakes to avoid…

Arriving a few minutes late, or even just on time. 

 Anticipate traffic delays and plan to arrive 15 – 20 minutes beforehand. If you get there extra early, you can always sit in your car and review your accomplishment points or your resume. Don’t arrive on time, arrive about 5 minutes early. Of course, do not be more than 7 minutes early.

Not knowing what the company does or who they are. 

 Unlike a few years ago, most reputable companies have a website. Make sure you hop on and look at their website and familiarize yourself with who they are and what they do. If posted, try to know more about management as well.

Not wearing a professional suit

Mark Zuckerberg does not need one, neither did Steve Jobs, but you do. It is important that you wear a professional suit. Even if you are told that they have a casual dress code, you will not lose points for overdressing. However, you will lose points for under dressing.

Holding cell phone in hand, or on belt, or in visibility. Candidates texting in the waiting room when manager comes out to get them

Make sure you leave your cell phone in the car to avoid temptations to peek and see who is calling even when you are in the waiting area. It should not be on you at all.

Not bringing copy of your resume for the hiring manager.

Do not assume that the interviewer printed emails of your resume. And if you are being interviewed by a panel, some of the members of the panel may not have seen your resume. Make sure you have several copies of your resume. This should also include having a copy of your resume for yourself as well on the table in front of you, as your guide.

Candidates answering with one-word answers or saying they know something or have done something but cannot explain it. 

I strongly advise you to put together a list of 3 columns the night before your interview. In the first column, writing out all your soft skills accomplishment points and then next to each one, a situation or example that proves you are what you say you are. Then in the next column, write down your hard skills accomplishments. Then next to each one, accomplishment, point or list examples of a time you have had to do a project for each one.  Commit that to memory!

Candidates saying their biggest weakness or area of improvement is something directly related to the job description, job function, or software that they’ll be working on. 

A good answer for “weakness” is education – using the next level up of education. Not having a BS in Accounting or Finance, or not having the master’s in accounting, or not having an MBA, JD or CPA, etc. Another good answer for this is industry experience – not having their specific industry experience, etc.

Candidates speaking negatively about their past employer.

Be honest and sincere, but no need to mention anything negative about your past manager or past company. Keep it broad and if there was something you didn’t like, maybe use a broad reason for leaving – “not enough growth”, etc.

Candidates lacking energy or enthusiasm, appearing bored or distracted

It is important that you remain with a positive attitude and demonstrate professionalism to every person you meet, even if you do not interview with them. A lot of companies will ask the receptionist up front to give them their “first impression” thoughts. Obviously, this is not the deal breaker, but it’s important to set forth your best foot prior to walking in and until you leave the building. I’ve also heard numerous times about candidates having their arms crossed in the interview (conveying boredom) or lacking eye contact. These things are all extremely important to showing good body language.

Candidates not asking any questions at the end of the interview. 

Prepare questions. It’s important to ask questions even if they’ve answered everything during the interview no matter what! Prepare a minimum of five questions for each person that you interview with throughout the process.  They’ll be expecting that the website will generate some questions for you, but make sure to prepare a few others as well. It is important to ask questions Even if they have answered a lot throughout the interview process. It is important that if you interview separately with different people, you have questions to ask for both. Here are a few examples:

  • What is the biggest challenge facing this position?
  • What characteristics and attributes will be necessary for success in this team?
  • What are you looking to have this position achieve in the first month? The first 6 months?
  • How is performance measured?
  • In what capacity will you and I work together?
  • How long have you been with XYZ company?
  • What made the previous person in this position successful?

This is not an exhaustive list. But pay attention to this and you should interview well. Remember, being well prepared for an interview, in addition to showing professionalism, shows you have passion for the job.

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