You start to sweat. Your mind goes blank. You wonder silently if you're doing the right thing.
Few things can be as nerve-wracking as a job interview. You want to come across as confident but not arrogant, as interested but not needy. While few fly through an interview error free, there are some simple, but common, mistakes to avoid if you want to land the job.
1. It is not all about you
Kurt Gering, director of talent, culture and capability at the San Diego International Airport, likens a job interview to that of a first date where you begin to find out if a potential relationship makes sense. Because of that, you need to focus not just on your talents but how they will benefit your potential employer. “People often ignore the needs of the organization because they are too busy selling themselves,” he said.
2. Details matter
From what you wear to how you sit, all of it can matter in an interview, says Trevor Blair, director of executive search for Manpower San Diego. Sighing, a weak handshake and the inability to make eye contact with everyone in a panel interview are small details that can have a big impact on an interviewee’s chances. “Failure to project energy is a huge issue,” Blair said. “You need enthusiasm in your voice and you need to remember to smile.”
3. Question with authority
When an interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you better have some – and good ones – at the ready. Gering, who teaches a class in strategic talent acquisition at UC San Diego Extension, said if you don’t have specific and thoughtful questions, you look more than unprepared; you look uninterested in the job. Blair concurs, adding “When applicants don’t have any questions, they’ve missed an opportunity to show me that they have researched the company and understand what it needs.”
4. You have a story, so tell it
Gering said too often people give bits of information and background but fail to craft a compelling narrative on how their skills fit with what the company is trying to accomplish. “You need to describe situations you’ve been in, explain how you addressed and solved those issues and then detail what results you achieved,” he said. Upshot: A rambling monologue is never a good thing.
5. Be confident
Blair says job seekers should relax and realize they are not powerless in the process. “We tell candidates to approach an interview as a meeting they called for,” he said.