So many of my clients and readers say, “I aced the interview, but I don’t know why I didn’t get a call for the next round.” Well, I guess you didn’t ace the interview, did you?
Sometimes you do well but they go with another candidate for a variety of other reasons. But having said that, it is also possible that you made some interview bloopers.
When you’re aiming to nail the big job interview, how you speak is as important as how you look. You’ve got the impressive résumé, solid references, and a professional outfit. But careless language could jeopardize your chance of landing that plum job.
Interview expert Darlene Price offers some insight about the seven common habits that can keep you from truly acing that interview:
1. Too much information
Avoid talking too much during the interview. In the business world, time is money. Bosses value employees who speak in a clear, concise manner. By all means, be interesting and use a personable enthusiastic voice, but avoid rambling. Get to the bottom line quickly.
As a general rule, keep your answers under two minutes. This habit not only shows you’re well prepared and succinct, it also allows time for the interviewer to ask more questions and get to know you better.
2. Not tooting your own horn
You can bet the candidates before and after you are selling themselves, so be sure you articulate your value. The primary purpose of a job interview is for the interviewer to fully understand your capabilities and professional worth. Are you a good fit for this position?
Don’t depend on a résumé or references to speak for you. Sell yourself. With every answer, show a direct correlation between your skills and the job requirements. End the interview by saying, “Thank you for your consideration of me for this role. I’m confident I will meet and exceed your expectations.”
3. Sounding unprepared
“Uh…wow…that’s a great question. Hmmm…(throat clear), I haven’t really thought about that. Let’s see, um, what are my strengths?” You can almost hear the interviewer thinking, “Next!”
Anticipate likely interview questions. Craft your answers and be sure to rehearse them aloud. Practice at least three to five times prior to the interview, ideally to another person who can provide feedback. Record a few rehearsals. Listen to them, time your responses, and tweak your answers.
Practice helps ensure you sound prepared, professional, and polished. Plus, being prepared is the very best way to minimize nerves and anxiety.
4. Badmouthing others
Nothing tanks an interview faster than making negative comments about a previous employer and having the interviewer perceive “sour grapes.” In addition to assessing capabilities, the interviewer is also assessing if you would be a good fit within the company culture, which usually seeks to provide a pleasant and positive work environment for employees.
Avoid pessimism and negativity. Use language that conveys a positive attitude, camaraderie, and helpfulness.
5. Using weak words and phrases.
There are many common culprits when it comes to weak words, and a few to keep in mind are:
- I might
- I’ll try
- Kind of
- Sort of
Replace these hesitant, unconvincing words with power phrases such as:
- I can
- I recommend
- My track record shows
- I’m confident that
For example, you can say, “I bring 15 years experience in marketing, where I increased sales by 30 percent,” instead of saying, “I bring a lot of experience in marketing, where I tried to increase sales.”
6. Not asking questions
During an interview, your questions say as much about you as your answers. When the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions?” Never say, “No.” This implies a lack of confidence, preparation, or interest — none of which is appropriate for a job interview.
Craft at least three to five open-ended genuine questions (not generic) about the industry, company, and position. Do your research ahead of time. Don’t ask, “What exactly does this company do?” Ask, “As the No. 1 leader in the biotech industry with eight divisions worldwide, how would you describe this company’s management style and the type of employee who makes a good fit?”
An interview is a two-way street, and your questions help ensure there’s a healthy flow of conversation. As a general rule, avoid asking about salary, benefits or perks until the interviewer raises the topic.
7. Admitting you were fired from your last job
While you never want to tell a lie during a job interview, you do want to tactfully explain why you left the company (or were asked to leave).
For example, “I enjoyed my last job very much and believed in the people and products that represented the company. My boss and I held very different convictions when it came to the importance of quality and customer service. It soon became clear to both of us that I would be happier in a new role – like this one.”
Then you can transition into talking about the company where you’re applying. Using positive language, explain why you left. Then redirect the focus of the interview back to why you’re right for the job.