I’ve interviewed lots of candidates for jobs at all levels of the organization, in the past seven years. What surprises me in many of these interviews is that even candidates with tremendous experience make terrible interviewing errors that I’d expect from someone with little experience. Therefore, to help every person I ever interview or any person looking to interview anywhere, here are my suggestions.
Be crisp: One candidate gave me a 10-minute soliloquy about why she was applying for the job. By the end I couldn’t articulate why she was here, or why she could be a good fit. Nor could she. When asked open-ended questions, have a brief (but vivid answer) that you can wrap up in 90 seconds.
Don’t criticize prior employers/colleagues: Even if your aim is to prove that you “get it” and are good at dealing with people with outdated ideas, telling us how much better you were than your former colleagues is off-putting. Skip the critique; focus on the value you brought and the gratitude that your previous employer presumably had for your valuable contributions.
Click here to get your free guide on how to answer the three most commonly asked job interview questions.
Know your resume: Most people write great resumes (or have great resumes written for them) and then do a terrible job articulating what’s on it. If you’re asked a question pertaining to an item on your resume, answer the question directly. Too often I see resumes with promising statements on them (e.g. increased revenue by 10%) without enough explanation of the how/why/what, when asked in the interview.
Be specific: It’s one thing to say you’re a results-oriented game-changer on your LinkedIn profile. But in an interview we’re looking for specifics. Explain how you achieved what you did, what strategies you developed, people you managed and outcomes of that work. Be mindful not to use jargon specific to prior jobs– this includes departmental abbreviations, project titles, etc. If you must use them, preface with an explanation of what they are.
Avoid the tangent: Too many interviewees get sidetracked by their own stories or ideas they want to expand upon in their response. But practice stopping yourself from going down tangent alley. Focus on the question. Answer the question. Don’t get sidetracked by your own stories.
These tips should help you succeed in your next job interview. And to get my free guide on how to answer the three most commonly asked job interview questions, click here.