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  • GET Phoenix

The Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing

What is the one common mistake candidates make during their interview process? To help job candidates avoid common mistakes during their interview process we asked our GET Phoenix community and other business leaders this question for their best advice. From badmouthing their last organization to failing to research the company and its business, there are several mistakes that candidates should avoid committing when interviewing for a job.

Here are 13 common mistakes these leaders advise candidates against during interviews:

  • Badmouthing Their Last Organization

  • Not Dwelling Strongly on Their Experience and Achievements

  • Failing to Justify the Switch

  • Lack of Honesty About Biggest Weakness

  • Focusing on Pay and PTO Too Early

  • Not Selling Themselves Enough

  • Arriving Late to An Interview

  • Being Too Personal in an Interview

  • Not Sending a Thank You Email

  • Failing to Show Enthusiasm

  • Not Demonstrating Knowledge of the Company

  • Not Interviewing the Interviewer

  • Failing to Research the Company and its Business

Badmouthing Their Last Organization

An interview is hardly the place to discredit or belittle the organization you worked at because it begs the interviewer to wonder if you'd do the same about their company too. Badmouthing a previous employer often backfires for most candidates because it reflects more on their maturity in dealing with an unfavorable situation. If you absolutely must talk about your negative experience at a former workplace, it's best to be objective and factual as opposed to vehemently hating on the organization without any concrete proof.

-Harry Morton, Lower Street

Not Dwelling Strongly on Their Experience and Achievements

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but always remember that if you are selected for an interview, it is for a few primary reasons: what you have done and/or what you can bring to the organization. That's why, when presented with situational judgment or open-ended questions, you leverage your experience and expertise.

It is easy to get caught up in the hypothetical...aka...what you would do vs. leveraging your experience...aka...I've been there and done that, and this is what did or did not work! Just remember, your experience and body of work is one of the main reasons why a company has an interest in you, so leverage it to put yourself in the best position possible!

-Cailean Bailey, Design Pickle

Failing to Justify the Switch

The one question that keeps coming back to a candidate during an interview process is why they decided to switch jobs. The answer to this is crucial to the new company because it enables the HR and management teams in evaluating the decision of the employee on various counts. Moreover, it also helps them understand what they’d have to deliver in order to retain this new worker. Things get complicated when a candidate fails to provide a convincing reason for the switch. This is one red flag that no company can ignore and usually results in the rejection of the candidate.

Lack of Honesty About Candidate’s Biggest Weakness

Many people do not put enough effort into how they would describe their "biggest weaknesses." For instance, they may say they are too much of a "perfectionist." This is a very generic answer that many people use, and therefore it does not seem very authentic. Think of something more unique to you. Even if you are a big perfectionist and this is something that can hold you back, maybe you could discuss your tendencies with "analysis paralysis." That would be more specific and relatable.

-Nick Shackelford, Structured Agency

Focusing on Pay and PTO Too Early

I often see candidates hurt themselves in the interview process by asking about things like pay or PTO too early. Of course, there needs to be alignment on those, but if it's the first question you ask then it gives me an indication that you don't really care about the job itself. Before you jump into the details we're going to have to address anyway, take a moment to ask about the business and role first. Don't jump the gun!

-Logan Mallory, Motivosity

Not Selling Themselves Enough

On one hand, I understand that normally, bragging about yourself is considered bad. On the other hand, during an interview process that's essentially what you're there to do. Not going out of their way to highlight achievements or things they are proud of is a major mistake I see from interview candidates who just show up and answer questions rather than making it a two-way conversation. As a hiring manager, there is a lot I can glean from your responses and your CV, but it is up to you to draw attention to what you consider the most important and exciting things about yourself for a potential employer.

-Dragos Badea, Yarooms

Arriving Late to an Interview

Being late for the interview is disrespectful of the interviewer’s time and can make the candidate look unprepared and unprofessional. Not only will the employer question the applicant’s interest in the position, but they will also wonder if this is the kind of behavior to expect if they were to hire the applicant for their company. For remote interviews, be familiar with the video software before the meeting to avoid technical mishaps. And if there is an in-person interview, try to arrive on-site 15 minutes beforehand.

-Benjamin Farber, Bristol Associates, Inc.

Being Too Personal in an Interview

When meeting someone in a work setting for the first time, it’s always important to be professional. This is particularly vital during a job interview, as coming across as too personal can potentially lead others to believe that you aren’t properly prepared for the role or engaged in the process. Talking about your personal life and presenting questions to the interviewer about theirs can potentially lead to feelings of unconformability, whilst also making it difficult to focus on the key professional questions being asked.

It’s important to remember that, more often than not, job interviews aren’t a simple conversation. Instead, they’re a chance for the interviewer to learn more about your relevant skills and overall fit for the role. In most circumstances, hiring managers will be meeting with multiple candidates for each role, so it’s vital to respect their time and wait until after you’ve got the job to build personal bonds.

-Teresha Aird,

Not Sending a Thank You Email

Many candidates forget to send a thank you email within 24 hours after the interview. Making an effort to do so can go a long way. Consider that out of all of the candidates interviewed, the ones who do so may stand out from those who do not. This is because this gesture shows that these candidates are genuinely interested in the job.

-Drew Sherman, Carvaygo

Failing to Show Enthusiasm

The most common mistake candidates make during their interview process is failing to show enthusiasm. So often, candidates get so caught up in just answering the questions they're asked that they forget to have a conversation with the interviewer. This is both a missed opportunity and a missed sales pitch.

Candidates need to be enthusiastic about the company and their role within it, and it's important for them to demonstrate this by asking questions and engaging in conversation with their interviewer. Ask questions about the company culture and what they love about working there. Ask questions about your role, how you fit into the team/company as a whole, what you're responsible for as an employee etc. It will show the interviewer that you're interested in their company and that you want to work there, which goes a long way toward impressing them.

S-haun Connell, Connell Media

Not Demonstrating Knowledge of the Company

I've interviewed lots of individuals for roles over the last 20+ years and the one thing that stands out for me is their lack of knowledge about the business, founders or offering. For me, the detail gives it away, if they haven't spent the time to understand more about not just the company but with LinkedIn now researching the individuals in the business unit they are joining, the leaders of the functions they would be working under, then it's always a disappointment.

Now with access to so much information, why not check to see if any of the team or people have been on podcasts talking more about their interests or skills in the sector. This gives an edge to candidates who have spent time and shows they are vested in the business and people and want to be part of it. I tend to have a curveball question by asking what is my favorite hobby out of work, readily available information, but tends to filter through quickly the candidates that are on the ball.

Stewart Townsend, Podcast Hawk

Not Interviewing the Interviewer

I understand the temptation to come in, answer all of their questions and then count that as a successful interview but I fully want my interview candidates to interview me right back. I don't want to be doing them a favor by hiring them - I want to find the candidate that can be as selective about me as I can be about them because those will be the people that will run my organization.

The more questions I field as an interviewer, the more I can see whether the candidate has an understanding of me, my industry and my business model and the more I see of their incredibly important communications skills. Prepare a list of questions to ask in advance, but don't feel the need to rivet yourself to them if something more appropriate comes up. It's a cliche, but a good interview should be a two-way street.

-Kate Kandefer, SEOwind

Failing to Research the Organization They Applied for

One of the biggest mistakes candidates can make is not doing their research and knowing little about the company they are interviewing with. When screening and interviewing clients, employers want to know what the candidate can do for them, how the candidate can make them shine, how much the candidate wants to work for their company, how the candidate can make them money, or how the candidate can save them money.

One of the most important ways a candidate can effectively convey their ability is by researching the company (including the CEO), industry trends, competition, opportunities, and even the person who is interviewing them. The more the candidate knows, the more the interviewer visualizes that candidate in the role. Don't be THAT candidate who stands out because they haven't done their homework. Properly prepare and arm yourself for the interview by doing your research.

-Lucie Yeomans, Your Career Ally


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