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Top job interview mistakes
by Jay Gutman
2014-12-21 09:31:10
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I have served on the hiring committees of several institutions and have interviewed hundreds of applicants, and there are patterns in the mistakes people make when they interview for a job. Here’s an article that will hopefully help you pass the interview stage.

Here are the mistakes in the order of frequency I tend to see them.

DON’T take any substances before you go to an interview. I know, interviewing for a job can be very stressful. But I’ve seen too many applicants come to interviews after smoking a joint or two (I can tell by the red eyes and tendency to talk too much and laugh at your own jokes) or a beer or two (I can tell by the smell and the tendency people who had a few drinks have to mumble when they talk and talk more than they should). Don’t drink, don’t smoke weed, don’t drink too much coffee, don’t overeat or drink too much water before you go to the interview, but don’t go there hungry either. We notice all those things.

DO accept an invitation for coffee, lunch or dinner after an interview. Often interviewers only hand out such invitations to those applicants who performed rather well at the interview. Such invitations are optional, but accepting them gives interviewers a better idea of what the applicant is like outside the formal interview. Sometimes promising applicants, out of stress, perform rather badly at the interview and we want to give them a second chance by offering them lunch of a drink.

DON’T criticize anyone or anything. Too many applicants criticize their former boss, their former company, their former school. Some are downright negative with everything. Interviewers don’t think the position available is a life saver and that the applicant will suddenly love his life once he gets the job.

DO prepare for trick questions. Trick questions include “what are your weaknesses” and “can you say something negative about your previous school/job”. Those are trick questions because interviewers try to see how applicants tend to formulate their criticism. Direct criticism tends to be frowned upon, so the best thing to say is “I used to be very bad at this but worked really hard on it and improved” or “I used to have problems regarding this particular aspect at my school/job but I talked about it and it got solved”. If the interviewer insists you say something negative about yourself or other people, the best way to go about it is to mention something you desperately wanted but never got like “I desperately wanted a sports scholarship but failed to get it” or “I desperately wanted to lead that project but they went with someone else”.

DON’T come too early, but don’t come late. The tendency I see is that some applicants come  way too early, hoping they can socialize with people at the company, get to know the company better and have more informed answers for the interview questions. It just doesn’t work that way in most cases. Usually, early birds will be sent out, or even worse, asked to wait in a room with nothing to eat, nothing to drink and no form of entertainment. Being late for a job interview just doesn’t make a good first impression.

DO try to get information about the company, by contacting people who work there on social media. But only do so if you got to the interview stage. A lot of applicants will call employees for more information before they even file an application, and very often that will make a bad first impression.

DO try to join as many organizations as you can before you apply for jobs. Interviewers are often pleased when they find out the applicant is a member of an organization they’re also members of.

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