NEWS + ADVICE
Have You Made These Interviewing Mistakes
Conducting a cleared job search can be a grueling process. You’ll be doing lots of employer research, crafting a perfect resume, networking, applying for positions and hopefully interviewing. All of these elements are important, but the interview may be the most important piece of the process.
There are several basic mistakes that you probably know to avoid, like:
- Being late for the interview
- Not dressing appropriately
- Your cell phone ringing, chiming, beeping
- Fibbing about qualifications or experience
- Bad mouthing past employers
Those are obvious no-no’s, but let talk about other circumstances that you should recognize as interviewing mistakes.
No pre-interview prep
You need to approach an interview like you would any important project – be prepared! Start with finding out as much as you can about the hiring company. Visit their website to get a solid understanding about their business, mission, products or service, growth expectations, and company leadership. Check them out on social media to get a feel for their company culture. They may be one of your target companies and you’ve already done most of these steps.
Maybe the most vital task is to Google the heck out of them, plus hit up everyone you know at the company. Don’t forget to check out LinkedIn and your second and third degree connections for contacts at the company. You want to see what the cleared community has to say about their organization.
Every candidate will probably visit their website, but if you can demonstrate during the interview that you have dug deep to get some insight, you will stand out in the crowd. Your goal is to find information that may be important to the position, but that you don’t find on the job description. The only way to do that is to network and dig for details.
The other benefit of being prepared is that you will go into the interview with more confidence and that will make you shine with potential.
Not asking questions
An interview is not the time to be shy. And it’s not the time to seem uninterested in the job or the company. Your research should give you plenty of information for question development: ask about a merger article you found online, inquire about growth projections, ask how your role will fit into the company’s mission, inquire how the interviewer would describe the company culture. Be curious, be interested.
Also thoroughly review the job posting before going for the interview – or better yet you’ve gotten some inside information from all the networking we talked about in the previous section. Get familiar with the qualifications they are seeking and ask any questions you might have about expectations. How will your work be evaluated? What is the company reporting structure? What are current team projects? Write down your questions the night before the interview and get familiar with the list so you can present them in a confident, professional manner.
Poor body language
Communication is not only verbal but we also speak volumes with our body language. Keep in mind how you are physically presenting yourself during interviews. When you meet those you are interviewing with offer a firm handshake, look them in the eye, smile and introduce yourself. Stand up straight, walk tall.
As you sit in the interview, don’t slouch. Put both feet on the floor, and rest your hands in your lap or on the table. You don’t want to appear stiff but you do want to convey you are paying attention. Do not jiggle your foot, play with a pen or gawk about the room. Lean in a bit to convey you are listening completely to what the interviewer is saying. Maintain eye contact.
Good body language can be challenging for many. Practice in front of a mirror or ask a friend to conduct a mock interview with you and critique your physical communication skills.
Becoming too personal
It’s important during an interview to present a friendly tone, but you don’t want to leave the realm of professionalism. A hiring manager may try to break the ice by asking “How has your day been?” That’s not an invitation to dive into chatter about how cranky your kids were or the spot you discovered on your suit as you were walking out the door. Be pleasant but be mindful.
You do want to be personable during an interview and show a bit of your personality. If the interviewer has photos of their family on the desk, compliment the picture and maybe ask how old the kids are. If there is a nice piece of art mention your appreciation. Just keep in mind this is your shot to make a good impression so keep your focus on professional accomplishments.
Awkward salary conversations
The conversation about salary should come from the interviewer, although that was most likely covered initially in the phone-screen interview with the recruiter. Your goal is to communicate why you are the best candidate for the position and to convey your interest in the company. To bring up the subject of compensation takes you off that message and makes you appear more interested in money.
The other mistake regarding salary talk is not being prepared to discuss your expectations. Do your homework. Research what the average salary is for the available job title or labor category. Investigate whether the company is known to be generous to employees or on the stingy side. With defense and intel contractors contracts dictate the labor rates, but where companies can sometimes be creative is with benefits and other aspects of compensation.
Get comfortable with presenting your case based on your skills, credentials and experience. Most importantly, know what you are willing to concede to get a job with your target company.
That’s a lot to remember. But practice makes perfect. Take advantage of mock interview opportunities or close yourself in a quiet room and prepare on your own. If you mess up a bit on one interview, know that the next one will be much better. Your hard work will pay off and you’ll soon be planning for your start day on a new cleared job.
This entry was posted on Friday, February 16, 2018 9:19 am