Not only do you need to understand what turns a job interviewer on, but you also need to know what turns them off. No one gives a perfect interview and some mistakes are expected. It’s the big faux pas that you must avoid. Let’s look at a few:
- Sales vs Substance: Overselling yourself can backfire if you have little or no substance to back up your pitch. Too much passion can be a turn-off to an interviewer especially if it’s off message. Being a pest and demanding weekly updates on the status of the position will not raise your ranking for the position.
- Attitude: Complaining about bosses or your current job will move you down the list. A chip on your shoulder or bitterness about not being treated well will not help your position, even if you are 100% correct. A sour attitude is catching. Tone down your unhappiness and elevate your positive enthusiasm.
- Bad responses: Not answering questions directly, or giving misleading information will not help your cause. A blatant fabrication is a knockout, like misrepresenting past titles, salary or responsibilities. If something in your background is awkward to explain, it’s better to give your rationale first, before you have to explain it later, defensively.
- Conflicts: Never challenge the interviewer. If you have a difference of opinion, let it remain unresolved unless it’s with a potential boss about a critical issue. Most bosses want to avoid conflicts, but it may be important to clarify a position. If you have a major philosophical or strategic disagreement, it’s better you not work for the company.
- No questions: When asked if you have any questions, don’t give the impression your not interested, overly confident, or not engaged in fact finding. Better to ask questions about expectations, strategy, scope of responsibilities and so on. A good question can elevate you up the ranking as a candidate if properly asked.
- References: A personal reference for a professional position can only undercut your candidacy. The question will become, “Why isn’t a past supervisor providing a sterling reference?” Since past managers are contacted anyway, do you want the question asked, “Why didn’t this employee put you down as a reference?” What are you hiding?
With your resume and the position description, you should be able to identify about 90% of the questions the interviewer will ask. Practice positive responses and ascertain the holes in your background, then finesse positive answers, without lying.
Avoiding a major faux pas during an interview is just as important as responding in a positive way to the interviewer. It’s your gateway to the next step.
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