Avoid Interview Blunders… aka: Don’t Mess Up!

Job Search

Nervous Interview photo from ShutterstockInterviewing can be a nightmare! Ok, there are probably some of you out there that may be thinking “what’s she talking about… I love interviewing!” But you are few and far between – if that’s you… read no further. But, if you’re within the norm, like most of us, we are usually running scared when interview time approaches (even if we are trying to present ourselves as the next 007 – cool, calm and collected). Interviewing can easily be like going through a ‘haunted house’ you have no idea what’s going to pop up next and whether you’re going to scream and run! So, here are some tips to help you combat those scary interview-demons!

#1 – Practice Your Intro! – I have coached a zillion people (ok… thousands, but who’s counting!) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across someone who thinks they are the ‘quintessential interviewee’ and are just going to ‘wing it’ because they believe they come across more naturally when they are unpracticed. So, ok – I’m good with that… let’s get started. I throw out the first interview starter (typical to begin an interview), “So, tell me about yourself”… and we usually just ski downhill from there. They start with where they grew up and went to high school and basically deliver a “what they want to do when they grow up” type of answer that only their Mother wants to listen to (enough to make their interviewer beg to keep their eyes open, wondering when it will be over, or maybe when their next manicure will be… you get the drift, the story is boring and far too lengthy).

Your intro statement (or 30 second commercial as it is referred to in the biz) needs to be peppered with what helps you stand out from the competition, matches up with the needs of the position, and what makes you interestingly unique (aka: your personal brand). Make sure it is not an “all about me” answer; instead mix it up and be sure you pepper it with some “all about the employer” information. If you practice your intro statement enough times it will come off very natural and succinct and not leave your interviewer wondering what nail polish color she is going to choose.

#2 – Help Me Help You – Ok, I know that’s totally ‘Jerry Maguire’ (thank you Tom Cruise!) but that line is so fitting here. Recruiters are trying to find candidates that “fit” and hiring managers want to find the same. So – tell them what they want to hear… how you “fit” their needs. Give them answers that pertain to the position and describe how your experience will be the solution to their needs. Talk about examples in your experience that match up with the position requirements. You don’t need to tell them about your entire life in an interview – practice your interview answers by coming up with examples around how you meet the employer’s needs (based on their job description) and information you gather in your research… which brings me to point #3.

#3 – Research, Research, Research – Just when you think you are done with ‘homework’ for life, you’re back at it. It is critical that you research the company that you will be interviewing with. Turn yourself into a private-eye and dig, dig, dig. Talk to your friends about the Company, review everything about them on the internet (press releases, LinkedIn company pages, Facebook pages, Twitter, Google… everything). Review the website in-depth, find the ‘team members’ – Google them, look them up on LinkedIn… know about the team. Uncover the Company competitors. Learn about the past, current and future product introductions. Get in the trenches around what’s going on with the Company you are entertaining a relationship with! In today’s marketplace with so much information available it is unacceptable to an employer for you to be unaware of their business, products and mission.

#4 – Gear up – Yep, you don’t get to just dust off the old suit any longer and think you’re ‘dressing for success’. It may very well be that doing that will put you in the “no thanks” pile before you even get to speak your first words. In today’s marketplace you will want to be fashion forward – I don’t’ mean you need to be looking all Hollywood, but you do need to make yourself aware of the company’s culture and how they dress. You should dress a level above the company’s norm  for your interview (based on your research.) In other words, if you’re going to interview with a start-up and all the employees are working in jeans, t-shirts and hoodies, you’ll be sorely out of place showing up in a full-on suit but, you also don’t want to show up in a hoodie (you haven’t been given the nod of approval yet.) So, less than a suit, but a level above jeans… I think you get it. On the other hand if you’re going to an interview in the Finance Industry for a large accounting firm, a suit may be very appropriate – make sure it’s not from ‘back-in-the-day’ though, something that is current and in style now should be your focus.