After all your efforts–networking and distributing your resume–you’ve landed an interview for a job that looks just like the spot you’ve been looking for. It’s a good fit between your qualifications and the requirements of the opportunity. You feel confident it will be another step on your career path.
Now, it’s up to you to conduct a winning face-to-face interviews with those persons who will make the final hiring decision. It’s time to sell the total package that is you and the benefits you can deliver. In other words, it’s time to close the deal.
Will you make the sale? It’s not likely if you commit one or more of the most flagrant errors of omission or commission. Here are 14 such bombs that can sabotage your interview, along with advice on how to avoid them.
1. Be over confident. Assume the interviews are just a formality on your way to a job offer.
2. Fail to gather information about the potential employer before the interview such as mission of the organization; type of business; where the job you are interviewing for fits in the hierarchy and culture of the organization.
Having this information in hand enables you to demonstrate your interest and to tailor your presentation to fit the requirements of the position.
3. Don’t have a plan for presenting your case, including points you will make and questions you will ask.
Know the impression you want to leave with the interviewers. Identify at least three points you mean to communicate as well as a brief summary. Rehearse, rehearse, preferably with some one who can and will critique your presentation.
4. Be late for the interview.
There is no surer way to show a lack of respect and interest than to arrive late for an interview.
5. Fail to pay attention to your physical presentation from the moment you enter the premises of the potential employer until you are well away from all contact.
Remember, you are selling a total package.
Strive to make a favorable impression on everyone you meet from receptionist to the final interviewer. Adhere to the code of dress. (Business attire is first choice unless you know for sure that the environment is casual. In any case, be well groomed.) Walk briskly, heads up, shoulders back. Don’t slouch when seated. Avoid the dead-fish handshake. Speak distinctly. Assume everyone you meet is important to the process. Be courteous to one and all.
6. Fail to concentrate on the interviewer and the give and take of the discussion.
Maintain eye contact; avoid gazing out the window or admiring the artwork on the wall. Unless forced by the interviewer, avoid chitchatting about the weather and the score of last night’s big game.
7. Ask about work hours, time off and other benefits before an offer is in hand.
8. Fail to treat the interview as a two-way communication process. Sit out the interview like a knot on a log. Let the interview become a monologue conducted by the interviewer.
Asking well-informed questions demonstrates you are interested in the opportunity and shows off your qualifications, as well as personality. In addition, they develop information you need to evaluate how the opportunity serves your career goals.
9. Bad mouth your former employer(s) and associates.
10. Lie about your qualifications.
11. Let your guard down when it appears the interview is over.
A canny interviewer may act as if the interview has ended, then blindside you with questions in order to see how you react to the unexpected. What appears to be an off-the-cuff comment or question could be among the most vital parts of the interview.
If you are invited to a meal, keep in mind that you are still being interviewed. Mind your manners. Avoid alcohol. If the interviewer insists, limit yourself to one glass of wine. Don’t order food that can be difficult to eat without making a mess.
12. Overstay your welcome.
Once the interviewer has signaled that it is time for you to go–even though you are anxious to keeping selling–wrap up the discussion and leave in short order.
13. Fail to make it absolutely clear that you want the job.
14. Fail to express appreciation for the opportunity to interview; thank others of the staff such as receptionist and assistants with whom you had contact.
Bottom line to this career coaching: To conduct a successful interview present yourself as a product to be sold. Mind your total packaging (i.e. dress). Identify the benefits you can deliver.
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