We all make mistakes. As teen in the early 80s I donned a plastic sweat suit and tried my hand at breakdancing to impress a girl. I’ll leave it to you to picture the results, but suffice to say I switched to the white-man-overbite shortly thereafter and ever looked back.
Interviews are a dance of a different. If you want to come off looking more Fred Astaire than Fred Flintstone avoid these rookie moves.
- Bashing a Bad Boss or Former Employer: Inexperienced interviewees have a tendency, perhaps unconsciously, to speak negatively about a former manager or company during the “why are you looking to make a change?” question, especially if they left under less than ideal conditions. Instead of venting, take the time to briefly note what you learned, what you accomplished, and how this opportunity is the logical progression of your career. If pressed for why similar growth is not available in your current company, stay positive and offer a logical reason such as company size, newness of next level management, or your desire to broaden your experience by switching industries.
- Using Too Much “We” Language: In a world of self-promoters it’s refreshing to find a candidate who acknowledges the efforts of others. That said it’s important not to inadvertently dilute your contributions. Be specific about your role in the accomplishment and detail exactly how you achieved it by noting the situation you faced, the action you took, and the results you achieved.
- Dodging the Tough Questions: Sometimes you simply don’t have the required experience or a specific skill spelled out in the job description or sought by the interviewer. Instead of fumbling through an ill-inspired attempt to make the connection, demonstrate your integrity by acknowledging the gap. Once you do, inquire as to how important that element is in comparison to others, then note a relevant trait you have that has yet to be explored. For example, maybe your volunteer experience can make up for a shortfall in formal education. Perhaps you lack direct management experience, but have managed a series of vendors and projects teams. In the end, you both want the role to work. Honestly measuring the size of the gap will help both parties determine if it’s crossable in a reasonable amount of time.
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Be sure to check out my new book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi