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6 Mistakes To Avoid For Your Dream Job Interview

Most of us know the general rules of interviewing. Bring an extra copy of your resume. Arrive on time. Don’t bring a drink or a friend. Definitely, don’t say anything negative about your former employer.

Other elements are a bit unclear, and even educated, experienced individuals find themselves screwing up now and again. Here are some big no-nos you should avoid before your upcoming interview, so you can land your dream job.

1. Wearing Inappropriate Clothing

Sometimes, showing up in a suit is inappropriate for the environment. For starters, no one really knows what exactly “business casual” means, so everyone has settled on a combination of dress shirts, khakis, or skirts. Likewise, some offices have entirely abandoned strict dress codes leaving job candidates to figure out what outfit says “I respect my workplace” and “I’m not stuck up” at the same time.

When in doubt, do the following:

  • Look up photos of the company online. Check out their website and social media channels. Companies, especially startups, sometimes post pictures of their office to show off their company culture. Take note of what people are wearing in the photos and then dress one level fancier. For instance, if everyone’s in jeans, you wear dress pants and a nice top. You demonstrate that the job is important to you, without looking ridiculously out of place.
  • Consider your industry. What works in a law firm won't cut it at a fashion media company. If you're working in professional services like law, accounting, or consulting, stick to safe, neutral tones. If you're interviewing for a job at a fashion magazine your outfit is as telling as your resume, so while you have to look professional, you should infuse some personality into your look.

2. Not Preparing Answers To Common Interview Questions

A question as simple as, “So why do you want this job?” can throw you off if you aren’t prepared. All the nerves and anxiety makes it difficult to string together an intelligent sentence. The last thing you want is to accidentally blurt out, “Because I need money, dammit!”

Before the interview think about questions like:

  • Why do you want this job? Come up with an answer that incorporates your passion, your knowledge of industry trends, your relevant experience, and your existing skill set.
  • What unique perspective do you bring to the table that will add value to our company?
    What about your past experience sets you apart from other candidates? Consider everything from previous jobs, international work experience, fluency in multiple languages, and volunteer work.
  • Why should we choose you over other candidates who have more skills or experience?
    If you have limited experience, you’ll need to have a marvelous answer to this question. One approach is demonstrating how quickly you’ve learned other skills on your resume (i.e. web design) as an example of your ability to learn other skills they need you to have (i.e. analytics).

You can find comprehensive lists of common interview questions online for additional preparation.

3. Knowing Little To Nothing About The Company

There are some questions scripted answers can help you with and others where it just won’t fly. The interviewer may present you with a scenario and ask you how you would handle it. In this case, research and preparation is key.

Familiarize yourself with a company’s products, services, and competitors. Doing so allows you to speak intelligently and use specific examples during the interview.

When a friend of mine interviewed for a retail position at one of Canada’s top 5 banks, the interviewer asked her an odd question: “How would where we’re located affect your level of customer service?”

Understandably confused, she answered the questions as best as she could. When she was finished, the interviewer explained what he meant.  “Within two blocks of us, there is a TD, a Scotiabank, and an RBC [other top banks in Canada]. That means there’s a lot of competition and if a customer is unhappy, alternatives are within walking distance. So we put a high premium on customer service.”

Researching a company’s core offering and its competitors can help you think on your feet when presented with an unexpected question.

4. Failing To Address Everyone Present

If you’ve made it through multiple rounds, there’ll likely come a point when more than one person is present at your interview.

In some cases, everyone asks questions. In other scenarios, one person asks questions and someone else only observes or takes notes. It doesn’t matter if someone in the room is the CEO or the executive assistant - make an effort to address everyone. Shake everyone’s hand before taking a seat and try to split your eye contact between all parties while answering questions.

Failing to do so makes a bad impression. At best, it looks thoughtless and at worst, it appears as if you’re only interested in status (i.e. you’re only interested in talking to the most important people in the room).

Furthermore, executives sometimes bring unexpected people into an interview because they trust their judgment and want their opinion. Treat everyone as if they have the final say.

Finally, it’s just common courtesy.

5. Not Asking Questions at the End of the Interview

At the end, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. This is an opportunity to demonstrate to the company that you’re ready to get started. Asking questions about the workflow, what the department’s biggest challenges are, or what the company’s objectives are for the next year convey that you can hit the ground running and you understand how your role contributes to overall business goals.

6. Not Selling Yourself Out of Fear of Appearing Cocky

Hiring is expensive. The director, hiring manager, or coordinator will be eager to find someone who can take on the role as quickly and competently as possible. The objective of your interview is to convey your value as clearly as possible.

If you’re worried this is tasteless, remember that it’s all about how you present it. Provide evidence to back up your claims about yourself. Come prepared with specific examples and data about projects you spearheaded in other jobs.

Before your interview, take a close look at your past accomplishments and come up with a concise way to talk about the nature of the project, what you were responsible for, and what results you delivered.

Weave this proof into your interview answers. Instead of launching into long speeches, plug these skills into your responses. If you’re asked how you would solve a certain problem at this company, provide an example of how you addressed a similar problem at a past job.

Making it to the interview stage is a big deal. There was something about your resume that stood out from other candidates. Now it’s a matter of presenting yourself as the only choice. Come prepared, convey a positive attitude, and present yourself as someone who can deliver value from day one.

If you have a job interview coming up, practice with an experienced instructor. At Talaera, we will help you get your dream job. If you are interested in our business English communications training, get in touch and we’ll tell you all about it!

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