Are You Making These Common Interview Mistakes?

by | Interviewing

Interviewing is a skill you can hone and master as long as you’re open to self-reflection. As a career coach, I find job seekers tend to make the same handful of common interview mistakes, and what follows are seven of the biggest ones. Are you making any of them?

7 Common Job Interview Mistakes

1. You’re not effectively preparing for your interviews.

Not knowing how to properly prepare for your interviews is one of the most common mistakes I see. Whether you’re a storytelling pro or it’s been a decade (or more) since you last looked for a job, you must have an interview preparation strategy if you want to succeed in your job search.

Solution: Begin by developing your key talking points and learning how to effectively answer behavioral interview questions. Then, practice responding to common interview questions aloud, using your talking points. Since you’re bound to get a question you’re not prepared for, also spend time practicing how you might respond to unusual interview questions.

2. You’re not providing “evidence” to back up your claims.

Another common interview mistake is not accompanying your answers with relevant stories. Let’s say you’re asked, “What are your biggest strengths?” Many interviewees will share their talents, yet fail to tell a brief story that demonstrates each of their strengths in action.

Solution: If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of Judge Judy, who requires you to come to her “courtroom” with your “evidence” in hand. Similarly, you need to come to your interview with evidence ready to share. Consequently, consider making a list of a half-dozen of your favorite stories that you can share during your next interview as “proof” of your claims.

3. You’re being dishonest about your qualifications.

Speaking of Judge Judy, one of the most popular quotes from the TV show is, “If you tell the truth, then you don’t have to have a good memory.” However, a common misstep some job seekers make during their interviews is being dishonest about their qualifications. Unfortunately, a talented interviewer can tell when you’re stretching the truth or flat-out lying, which can cost you the job offer.

Solution: This may sound like a no-brainer, but you to need tell the truth when interviewing. At the same time, you can be strategic about what you share and how you communicate to the interviewer. If you don’t have experience in a certain project management software, for instance, you can highlight similar software you know, as well as specific examples (remember that “evidence”!) of how you’re a fast learner.

4. You’re forgetting to “tie” your answers back to the role.

Many job seekers also get in the habit of sharing great stories when interviewing yet forget to connect them back to the company and role. This leads the interviewer to have to do the mental gymnastics of connecting the dots between your experience and their requisition. This isn’t ideal, as you want to make it easy for them to see how your experience is transferable. 

Solution: You can use my modified STAR(T) method to make it crystal clear to the interviewer that your experience is relevant. In addition to sharing the Situation (S), Task (T), Action (A), and Result (R), you also want to Tie (T) your answer back to the job posting. This is particularly important if you’re changing industries or job functions, since your transferable skills may not be immediately apparent to the recruiter or hiring manager.

5. You lack confidence.

Interviewing for a role can also bring up unaddressed imposter syndrome. While it’s a relatively common phenomenon, a lack of confidence can negatively impact how you show up and perform during your interview, so it’s best to get ahead of it.

Solution: One of the quickest ways to build your confidence is to reflect on your career accomplishments. You don’t need to recreate the wheel here, either. Rather, you can review those memorialized on your resume, then spend time daily internalizing wins from your career.

[Read: How To Speak With Confidence And Interview Better: 10 Tips]

6. You’re blending in.

In today’s saturated labor market, simply being qualified for a role often isn’t enough to land a new job. You also need to explain what sets you apart from other applicants. In other words, you can’t be afraid to own your fabulousness if you want to be an effective interviewee.

Solution: While learning to talk about your differences can feel uncomfortable at first, it gets easier with practice and makes you a stronger interviewer. Before going into job interviews, make a list of what sets you apart from other interviewees. Then, ensure you communicate these talking points during your interview.

7. Your delivery is off.

Finally, it’s not just what you say, but also how you say it, and that matters when you’re interviewing for a job. Interview nerves can often manifest as speaking too fast, being too long-winded, or freezing up. If you’re not used to talking about yourself, it can feel unnatural, which can result in your delivery being off.

Solution: Record yourself delivering your interview talking points, then watch yourself back and take note of your delivery. You might also consider hiring an interview coach to hone your storytelling skills, since you only get one first impression.

Final Thoughts

Do you notice yourself making any of these common job interview mistakes? Fortunately, once you identify them, you can address them and become a stronger candidate. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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