5 mistakes you can’t afford to make twice in a job interview

Jun 20, 2022

4 mins

5 mistakes you can’t afford to make twice in a job interview
Cristina Fernández

Periodista Freelance

You’ve managed to make your résumé stand out, catch the eye of recruiters, and get a job interview. This is a great achievement and means you’re one step closer to getting the job you want. But, as you well know, nothing is guaranteed just yet. You now need to show that your skills make you the perfect candidate for the company and avoid making mistakes that can derail your chances. We spoke to Nuria Viejo, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Servihabitat, to find out what mistakes you should avoid making in an interview.

1. Coming off as nonchalant

Viejo points out that a job interview is a chance for the company and the candidate to meet. They want to get to know you and for you to get to know them, and see if you could potentially be a match for the position and join the company. Therefore, one of the biggest mistakes that the specialist highlights is appearing passive during the meeting, i.e., not showing interest in what could be your job or in your future company.

It’s important to let the interviewer see that you possess great knowledge about the company. “Any information you have will help you ask relevant questions and better understand the context of the project,” says Viejo. Keep in mind that if the interviewer asks you what you know about the company or why you want to work there, and you can’t come up with anything, this won’t leave you in a very good position.

Therefore, the expert recommends preparing beforehand: visiting the company’s website and their social media profiles, reading their posts, and trying to find out what life’s like at the company. “If you do your research, you’re showing that you’re interested and proactive, and you’ll also gain confidence,” Viejo adds.

2. Not highlighting your USP

Being able to show that you know the position and the company is a huge plus, but don’t forget that in a job interview most of the conversation will center around you. Recruiters want to get to know you and find out what you could bring to the role.

For this reason, another major mistake you can make, according to Viejo, is not being able to convey your potential and your USP (unique selling point) as a professional. “The company wants to learn about your career and qualifications, but above all, what achievements you’ve made throughout your career, what difficulties you’ve come across, and how you’ve tackled them,” she explains.

In other words, it’s not about reeling off your entire professional history, the roles you’ve had, or the qualifications you have; that’s what your résumé is for. What you need to know how to convey (in a brief, concise, and effective way) is what you’ve accomplished in each one of your jobs. In other words, your greatest achievements. For example, how you managed to get a big client or double traffic to your website. You should be able to do this in a way that emphasizes your synthesis and communication skills.

To do this successfully, Viejo advises you “prepare and analyze your professional experience, have your resumé at hand, take charge and carefully plan your responses in order to be concise and not leave anything important out.”

3. Giving trivial answers

Remember that the person in front of you will probably have to meet with a lot of other candidates, and there’s nothing worse than having to hear the same studied and vague answers over and over again. If you approach your interview like this, you’ll find it very difficult to stand out from the other candidates, which is often one of the keys to a good interview.

“We’ve already heard the textbook answers – so be original and go deeper,” the expert advises. Whether the recruiter asks you about your strengths and weaknesses, or whether they are interested in knowing why you made a certain decision when faced with a specific problem in your previous job, the important thing is to forget about generalizations and always try to add value with the help of examples of specific situations you have faced.”

4. Being negative

Another point that will undoubtedly help you shine during a job interview is displaying a dynamic and optimistic mindset. There are fewer disheartening things than coming across someone who’s full of negativity, lacking enthusiasm, and full of complaints. If you’re seen to be like this, it’ll be quite unlikely they’ll want you in their team.

So, banish the negativity from your discourse and speak positively, especially when answering questions about your previous job. If you have to speak about your old boss or former company, or about some conflict that you had with colleagues, build your response with a positive, professional, and polite stance. “You may have had a negative experience in your former job with a manager or you didn’t see eye to eye with a colleague. Whatever it is, you should approach it from an improvement standpoint,” Viejo notes.

The interviewer isn’t there to decide who was right in a conflict or whether your boss really was as much of a tyrant as you’re making them out to be. What they do want to see is your ability to solve problems and work as part of a team. If you put a negative spin on these experiences as well as blame others, you run the risk of being seen as a person who is incapable of recognizing errors and adapting.

It’s better to focus on “explaining how those experiences helped you to grow and tackle new situations,” the expert recommends.

5. Pretending to be someone you’re not

“Everyone wants to impress the interviewer, but this can’t be done by pretending to have skills that you don’t because, sooner or later, your true self will show,” the expert warns.

Lying about your skills or qualifications can be really counterproductive given that these things can easily be checked. The company simply needs to ask you to produce your certificates or test your expertise. And there are few worse mistakes in a job interview than coming across as an untrustworthy professional.

Make up for any potential shortcomings by displaying interest and passion, and let your desire to continue growing professionally and advancing in your career shine through. And of course, don’t hesitate to highlight the expertise and skills you already have. “Try to stand out with the skills you do have. Be cordial, friendly, polite, and above all, be yourself.”

After all, it’s also about finding out whether you and the company are aligned and whether the working environment and culture appeal to you. Appearing to be different from how you really are can result in you ending up in a company where you don’t fit in and prevent you from finding the job of your dreams.

Translated by Jamie Broadway

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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