5 Common But Costly Interview Mistakes Qualified Candidates Make

It’s no secret that you’re excellent at what you do. You might even be the go-to person on your team at your current company. And, there’s no doubt you’ve put in the work to get where you are today in your career. But, now that you’re ready for the next step, there’s one little problem: your interviews keep going nowhere.

You feel stuck in a loop, with interview after interview but no job offers in sight. While it feels confusing, there is an answer. Here are five common but costly mistakes you might be making that are holding you back from getting hired without you even realizing it:  

You’re too focused on your career history.

You’re likely making this mistake, for example, if you're constantly reciting every single thing you’ve ever done and every single place you’ve ever worked in your interviews. You share so much information about your career history in interviews, you’re a walking 3-page resume. 

Of course, sometimes interviewers may even tell you verbatim to walk them through your resume, but even still, you might be making the rookie mistake of overwhelming them with too many details. To nail the interview and get the job offer, you have to be future-focused, as I like to call it. You have to paint the picture of your experience in a way that gives them a taste of what you can do for them. But, reciting your career history makes the conversation more about you and less about what you can do for them and how you can solve their problems.

You’re over-rehearsing your interview responses.

It’s one thing to prepare for your interviews, but sitting in the mirror for hours on end rehearsing your interview responses over and over until you memorize every answer thoroughly, might be doing you more harm than good. 

When you over-rehearse your interview responses, you are more likely to get caught off guard if the interviewer asks you a question you weren’t expecting. You’re also more likely to get down on yourself during an interview if you fail to recite a rehearsed interview response exactly as you practiced it. So, even though the interviewer has no idea you said anything wrong, your mood and confidence can shift and impact the outcome of your interview because of your inner thoughts about a missed word or sentence.

You’re disconnected from the mission and culture.

Sure, you know that you can successfully meet the responsibilities of the role. But, that is not the only thing hiring managers are looking for in interviews. This is especially true as you go into the final rounds of interviews and if you’re seeking a more senior-level role. For instance, I once worked with a brilliant engineer seeking to land a new position elsewhere. She came to me shocked to hear feedback from an interviewer that she didn’t land the job because she was too technical in her interviews. But, she didn’t realize she was making the mistake of not connecting with the mission and culture. 

Yes, it is essential to show that you can fulfill the role. But, focusing solely on the responsibilities of the job in your interviews without clearly showcasing how and why you align with the team and company can leave hiring managers second-guessing if you’re truly a long-term fit for the position and organization. 

You’re overlooking the basics.

It sounds simple, but for example, most people don’t realize that one of the most basic things they will need to do to get hired is repeat themselves. Still, there are many reasons candidates shy away from repeating their accomplishments and skills in interviews: they don’t want to be annoying, they assume the interviewers should remember, or they don’t want to seem full of themselves. 

But, if you think about it, interviewers speak to multiple candidates multiple times on top of their other work responsibilities and personal commitments. Most people can barely remember what they ate two days ago. Yes, they’re likely taking notes about each candidate. But, it’s your responsibility to remind them in every interaction why you are the person for the job. It doesn’t make you annoying or arrogant. It makes you helpful. Overlooking the basics is a sure way to get passed over, even when you’re qualified for the roles you’re pursuing. 

You’re not sure why you’re good at what you do.

Of course, the proof that you’re good at what you do is all over your resume and in the results, accomplishments, and experiences you’ve undertaken in your career. But, when it comes to recognizing and explaining why you’re good at what you do, things get a little fuzzy. 

However, understanding and successfully communicating why you’re good at what you do is what separates an average candidate who knows they’re qualified from a top candidate who knows why they’re qualified. If you don’t know how to recognize and communicate this, investing in your career and getting support from a career coach can be a game-changer because an expert can help you identify and acknowledge what sets you apart so that you can stand out in an authentic way that gets you hired. 

It’s tempting to think that maybe you’re not getting hired after interviews because other candidates are just better than you or because you’re not good enough. But, I recommend being proactive and taking a look at how you are approaching your interviews instead. Changing your interview style and avoiding these common mistakes could be what takes you from overlooked to hired.

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