In our coaching and training, we end up discussing the interview process all the time. Many of our clients interview regularly for promotions within their company. And almost all of our clients have to conduct interviews with others, for positions they are trying to fill on their own teams.
Part of our coaching process is to ask our clients about the most common mistakes they see when they are interviewing others. And then we remind them not to make the same mistakes themselves.
What are the most common interview issues our clients see?
1. Know the position you are interviewing for, and know something about the organization. You need to demonstrate some knowledge about the job and the company, so you can discuss why you are a good fit.
2. Don’t just talk about yourself. Don’t regurgitate your resume. Try to engage in dialogue with the interviewer. Think about being on a date with someone who only wants to talk about themselves… not fun, right? An interview is not that different.
3. Have some questions for the interviewer. Ask something about how they will define success, the biggest issues they are trying to solve, etc. Ask questions that will demonstrate that you are thinking about results for the company.
4. Don’t ramble. Think about the macro themes you want them to hear, and make sure you stay on message. Speak in complete sentences, that have an end point. Many people, when they get excited or nervous, speak in long, run-on sentences that have no end, and are hard to understand. If the interviewer has trouble understanding you or following your train of thought, they may not want to work with you.
5. Don’t check your phone or look at your watch in the interview. Enough said…
6. Have a notebook, write some things down. It shows that you care, and that you are engaged.
Most people make the same fundamental mistake in an interview. They oversell themselves, and end up sounding self-absorbed. Go the other way. Put yourself in the interviewers’ shoes. What will they care about? What will be interesting to them? How can you make it easy for them to remember you, in a good way? How can you demonstrate that you are engaged?
Interview skills are important. They tend to represent key moments in your career. And you want to be at your best in those key moments.