Whenever I think of “interviewing skills,” I always think of Step Brothers – when Brennan and Dale go on a series of joint job interviews and royally screw them up. There’s a lot of swearing, so I won’t post any links, but go look it up on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean. It’s hilarious and cringeworthy.
While Dale and Brennan’s job hunt is exaggerated, the reality is that it still is tough to get a job. If you’ve been going on interviews but not advancing, take a step back and make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes.
Appearing disinterested in the position.
Of course, you don’t want to come off as desperate. But showing a level of enthusiasm for the company and the job you’re applying for is a good idea. If you take the time to actually interview for a position, make it worth the time. Learn about the company and the work they’re doing, and tell the interviewer why you ‘d like to work there.
Wearing the wrong thing.
It’s usually a good idea – no matter where you’re interviewing – to show up in a nice suit. Even if the culture of the company is laid back, showing up in a T-shirt and flip flops doesn’t leave the best first impression. If you don’t have a suit, dress pants and a nice, unwrinkled shirt/blouse that doesn’t show too much skin will work.
Embellishing items on your resume.
Do you have extensive travel experience? At certain companies, that might be an asset. But unless you’re actually fluent in Spanish, don’t advertise that you speak Spanish. This goes for anything. If all you can do in Photoshop is crop and rotate photos, don’t say you’re proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite. Your potential employers WILL find out, and the result won’t be pretty.
The interviewer doesn’t want to hear about your bad relationship with your ex-husband when he or she asks about a gap in employment. Saying something like, “I went through some personal issues that needed a lot of my time and energy, but I’ve got it sorted out now” is a lot better than venting to this stranger about how your sister wouldn’t pitch in to care for your sick father. If you find a common ground with the interviewer (a hobby, organization, charitable cause, etc.) then it’s fine to chat about for a few minutes. But keep it light!
Failing to ask questions.
This one is tough I know. The interview itself can be overwhelming. Trying to process information fast enough to ask a relevant question might just add to the stress. Instead of saying that you don’t have any questions, try asking about the specifics of the job if they weren’t covered – responsibilities, the size of the team, and other things like that. Or ask how the company’s philosophy fits in with day-to-day working life. Anything to show that you’re interested in the job and look forward to hearing back from the company will work.
Thanks to Miriam Salpeter for the good advice. Got any other habits to avoid during an interview? Leave ‘em here and I’ll spread the word!
By Janelle O’Hara