How to Avoid Interview Mistakes Even Smart People Make Resources

As the founder of SixFigureStart career coaching, Caroline Ceniza-Levine has worked with some of the nation’s best and brightest young jobseekers. While many of these individuals have the smarts and skills needed to land their dream gigs, they tend to make interview mistakes that hurt their chances. Fortunately, Ceniza-Levine has been taking notes, and in a terrific Forbes story titled “Five Interviewing Mistakes Even Smart Job Seekers Make,” she shares some of the snafus common among would-be corporate execs.

The first one on her list is “saying too little.” As Ceniza-Levine explains, there’s a tendency among many jobseekers to avoid prattling on and an and supplying too much information about schooling and job history. While it’s true that you don’t want to go overboard, it’s important to give details about what you’ve accomplished. Don’t go through your past careers “like a laundry list” without giving supporting details. Make sure you highlight how the work you’ve done showcases your value.

Mistake No. 2 is similar: “assuming your value is obvious.” Here, the danger lies in thinking that projects and job titles are universal, and that by saying you were part of, say, a “product rollout” at Company XYZ, the interviewer will know precisely what that means. Every company and position is different, and if you want the interviewer to know what you contributed over at XYZ, you’ll need to spell it out.

While Ceniza-Levine is obviously a fan of talking yourself up, she warns in No. 3 about “getting too friendly.” During an interview, you want to establish a good rapport and have a proper conversation — not simply a back-and-forth volley of questions and answers — but that doesn’t mean throwing in tons of jokes or gossip. By all means, read the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile beforehand, but don’t forget that you’re not his or her best friend. Keep it professional.

Just don’t keep it too straight-laced. Ceniza-Levine’s next no-no is “being too coy.” In most cases, you’re on a job interview because it’s a position you’re interested in and a company you’d like to work for. Don’t be shy about showing some emotion and saying why you’re drawn to the opportunity. You don’t want to gush or seem obsessive, but by letting your enthusiasm show, you won’t necessarily paint yourself as desperate, as many jobseekers fear.

Finally, Ceniza-Levine cautions against “not following up.” Everyone knows about the thank-you note, which hasn’t gone out of fashion, but beyond that, she says, you should stay in touch with the interviewer. You may not have been the right candidate for this particular opportunity, but there will be others, and if turns out the hiring manager moves on, they might consider you for job openings at their new company. By staying on people’s radars and building relationships, you’ll effectively hedge your bets for the future.


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