Ever had one of those “uh-oh” moments in a job interview? When you just know your chances have taken a nosedive (even if you aren’t sure why)? I had a great conversation with Jeff Altman of No B.S. Job Search Advice Radio about some common (but not necessarily obvious) interview mistakes and how to avoid them.
Don’t sabotage yourself financially by specifying a dollar figure when they ask about your salary expectations or past salary. Ask for a range, and once they tell you, say something like this:
“That sounds like a reasonable ballpark, and I’m sure once we decide this is a fit we’ll be able to agree on a compensation package that’s fair.”
By the way, if you subscribe to this blog you’ll be able to download an infographic that tells you exactly how to handle the “salary expectations” conversation–and a couple other useful tools as well.
Don’t give standard, cliché answers you found online somewhere. Be authentic as well as strategic–those two qualities are what I call “the yin and yang of the job interview,” and both are essential to success.
Don’t sabotage yourself when negative subjects come up. Know how to talk about weaknesses, mistakes, gaps in your skills or work history. You can read more about that in my post on answering loaded questions or just watch the video.
Be concise. Rambling on and on is a very common interview-killer, and we talk about how to keep your answers “short and sweet.” Here’s one tip: give a too-short answer followed by a question like “Would you like more detail about any of that?”
Don’t just react. Be proactive: know your key selling points–those top 2 or 4 or 5 things that make you stand out from the competition–and emphasize them. Communicate them in your answer to the first question and tell stories that illustrate them.
Don’t wait ‘til the end of the interview to ask questions. Skillful use of questions in the beginning and middle of the interview can greatly improve the quality of the conversation.
Don’t be vague, be specific. Give examples. Be complete in describing the results of your work. Quantify your accomplishments. My post on how (and why) to do this in your resume is very applicable to interviewing.
Don’t fail to prove your emotional intelligence and your soft skills. Simply claiming you have them is useless. Give evidence!
Don’t “wing it” when your career is at stake. Prepare in advance. At any time you could get a call from a recruiter asking if you have a moment to “chat.” That’s an interview. Be ready!
Don’t make these interview mistakes! As Jeff says, the skills you need to *get* a job are totally different from the skills you’ve been using to *do* your job. Learn the skills and get a great job sooner!