What Are the Top 5 Job Interview Mistakes?

facepalmSometimes we learn from our mistakes… sometimes we learn from the mistakes of others.

You can rise above your job search competition by learning the top 5 job interview mistakes we see them making right now…

5. Not Knowing Their Own Resume

As a recruiter, I am constantly astounded that candidates, when asked, do not know the details provided on their own resume. From experience, I know that sometimes anxiety causes a temporary mental block – which in turn shows a lack of base confidence (not a good sign). I also know that far too often, the resume has been exaggerated, putting the candidate in the position of remembering mistruths at a stressful moment (not as easy as some seem to think).

As a recruiter, I also know that if your resume is honestly told – and you are confident in your past contributions – remembering your own resume isn’t difficult.

4. Unprepared for Common Interview Questions

In some form, recruiters ask a similar set of questions:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Tell me about your last employer?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Why the large gap since your last job?
  • Why are you a good fit for this position?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

To not be prepared to confidently answer each of these questions, as applicable, shows the recruiter the candidate has not prepared well for the interview… placing them well behind their top competitors.

3. Inability to Carry on a Conversation

From the moment they walk into the office, candidates are judged on their ability to carry on a normal, human conversation. This judgment includes the ability to converse with the receptionist/gatekeeper, make strong eye contact, deliver a firm handshake and the ability to greet the recruiter with sensible small talk before the formal interview.

More critical: the capacity to participate in a comfortable two-way conversation that puts both the recruiter and candidate at ease… and allows the discussion to turn toward decision-making issues such as culture fit and how you will directly help solve their problems.

The simple fact is that if a candidate walks in expecting a one-way interrogation… and is not prepared to have a mutually beneficial conversation… they probably aren’t a good fit.

2. Failure to Ask Good Questions

At some point in the interview, the recruiter is going to ask: “Do you have any questions for me?” The good candidate – the well-prepared candidate – MUST be prepared with 2 to 5 good questions.

And by “good” question I mean really good questions – not something you’d find easily on the company’s ‘About Us’ page or in their annual report. And certainly not something you’d find in the job description. If in doubt when coming up with your question set, Google the company to learn about their appearances in the news or take a look at their blog to see where their current passions lie; both these sources offer a goldmine of subjects to ask about during the interview.

There is no excuse for not having a set of really, really good questions lined up for the interviewer. If your answer is “No” – in any form, to include “Not at this time” or “Not really, I think we’ve talked about everything already” – the interview is essentially over.

So is your candidacy.

1. Failure to Conduct Research

Candidates are often given a week or two of notice before they sit down face-to-face with a recruiter. Some will spend that time agonizing over the right clothes to wear, or figuring out the “greatest weakness” question. Some will make sure they have memorized their resume, start-to-finish – or map out to the exact second when to leave the house so they aren’t late.

Yet many will fail to do what really impresses a recruiter or hiring manager: research!

They won’t go on LinkedIn to learn more about the recruiter. They won’t go online to learn about  next steps in the company’s growth. They won’t check out the organization’s competition or standing in the marketplace. Many won’t even take the time to understand the company’s mission and culture – and to know if they are a good fit.

In the eyes of the recruiter, this lack of effort puts the candidate in the “He just needs a job – any job” category. And in this economy, that attitude will eliminate the candidate from consideration.

By learning from these top 5 job interview mistakes, you’ll cut through the nervousness that comes with interviewing because you’re far better prepared. You will exhibit a high work ethic and your ability to organize and focus on the task at hand. And, you’ll show the recruiter you genuinely care about the company and their mission – and articulate how you are a good fit.

And by doing all that… you’ll be one step closer to a job offer.





Mark Babbitt AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, August 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Questions? Contact Mark on Twitter.



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