Job interviews are your opportunity to make a good impression. All too often, however, job candidates make some common mistakes that either generate a negative impression or at least fail to convey their best qualities.
Here are ways to avoid the most common interview “traps.”
You’re not there to be interrogated
Employers don’t invite you in to give you the “third degree.” Yes, they will ask you questions, but they’re genuinely interested in having a conversation that helps them get to know you better. Be prepared to ask questions, as well as respond to them. It’s your opportunity to find out more about the open position you’ve applied for, as well as the company that may hire you.
Make a list of questions to ask
Some questions will grow naturally out of the conversation you have with the recruiter, but a well-prepared job seeker comes into the interview with four or five set questions. This is especially useful when you’re asked, “Do you have any questions?” If you answer no, you leave the impression that you’re not all that interested in the position. A reliable question to ask might be, “What’s it like working for this company?” or “Can you tell me something about yourself?”
Don’t say, “My weakness is I’m a perfectionist”
Chances are you’ll be asked to talk about your personal or professional weaknesses. Don’t try turning it into a positive by claiming to never be satisfied with anything less than perfection. Recruiters have heard it all a thousand times before. It’s better to discuss a particular skill that you’d like to improve upon, and steps you’ve taken to do so. That says a lot more about your quest for constant self-improvement.
Be prepared to talk about yourself
A job interview is nowhere to be shy about your skills and achievements. Before coming in, put together a list of your accomplishments, with particular emphasis on how they helped the company you worked for. Also be prepared to talk about non-professional parts of your life. Interviewers want to get to know you, so you should be ready with some good answers.
Many job-seekers mistakenly leave the interview believing they’ve done all they can. Not true! First, send a thank-you letter or email to the person you talked with and follow-up a few days later with more detail about yourself or simply a polite inquiry as to the status of the open position. You don’t want the recruiter forgetting about you!