On paper, you look like a true champion: You have tons of relevant experience, you're accomplished and, apparently, you're a great communicator. You're not hired yet, though. Your potential employers still want to see how you actually interact with people, and that's why the interview is so important. There are many ways to make your interview go swimmingly, but here are a few mistakes that could instead sink it like the Titanic.
1. Go in cold with no knowledge of the company.
Not doing your research can be read as a sign of disrespect, since the bare minimum would only require a quick breeze through the "About Us" tab on the company website. How would you feel if you went into an interview and the interviewer hadn't even bothered to read your resume? The company's mission statement, like your resume, was crafted and shared beforehand for a reason. Plus, you should want to know more about the company you intend to work for; for all you know, it could be one of the top 5 WORST places to work.
2. Go in with a bad attitude.
It's okay to have a bad day before an interview; traffic may have been terrible, or you're just not in a particularly sunny season in your life. It's NOT okay to walk that little black cloud into the conference room with you. Check those negative vibes before you walk in. A bad attitude can say a number of things about you to an employer, No. 1 being that you care more about everything else in the world than you do about this job.
3. Get too comfortable or familiar.
You definitely want to feel comfortable in an interview, because that means you would be comfortable working there. You and the interviewer might even be friends some day, but that day isn't today. Don't alienate an interviewer by being too casual with your answers (just because you're trying to work on a boat doesn't mean you should curse like a sailor!) or sharing too much of your personal life. Some interviewers might be fine with it, but assume that most would find it awkward.
4. Be over-rehearsed.
Companies hire people, not computers. If you sound robotic, you don't sound genuine, and therefore you're not communicating as effectively as you could be. The human element is what's really being tested here; that's why most interviewers don't send you their questions ahead of time. They want to hear a genuine, on-the-spot answer from you to see how well you can field questions that you haven't been prepped for. All candidates can say they have great communication skills, but this is a really basic way to show those skills.
5. Have no specific examples you can point to from your experience/education to help answer questions.
When trying to sell your skills, results speak louder than responsibilities. A quick job description can tell a hiring manager what your duties were, but it's up to you to tell them why you are the best person for the job. In AIU's recent Serious Talk webinar, "Who is Getting Hired and Why," Elissa Dactelides, head of learning and development for Cetera Financial Group, notes, "It's great that you can show you've done a lot of things ... So what that you did it? What was the impact to the organization? And what did you learn from it?"
6. Bash your former coworkers or superiors.
Throwing someone under the bus in an interview gives the impression that you have no problem assigning blame elsewhere and you're quick to do so. Any manager who would listen to you bash your previous manager is probably thinking you would do the same to them at a moment's notice. Plus, it's a small world. How do you know that your old manager and the interviewer aren't connected somehow? Don't let a few complaints about the old firm get you blackballed from a new one.
7. Ask no questions.
Think of this as a conversation, not an interrogation. Asking questions shows that you are interested enough to learn more about the company you intend to work for. Also, think of this as another test of your communication skills and your ability to seek out pertinent information.
Learn more about getting your career moving in the right direction. Download our guide, How to Go From the Job You Have to the Career You Want.
If you're a current AIU student or alumnus looking for more career advice, please contact the Career Services Department at 877-221-5800, Option 5, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.