The No. 1 Job Interview Mistake (Worse Than Being Late)

job interview mistakeAs the world wakes to a new reality, that Britain will no longer be a member of the European Union (EU), a particular news story about the upheaval caught my attention because it contains a lesson for jobseekers. Or at least those who want to avoid the biggest job interview mistake… ever.

The Washington Post reports how British people “frantically” googled the definition of the EU and what would happen if their country left the EU. The problem is, the Google searches spiked after people voted.

Buyer’s remorse? Yea, of epic proportions. Perhaps the British voters should have studied before they marched into the polling stations.

Not to trivialize a seismic political moment — Britain’s decision will no doubt change the power structure in Western Europe and, therefore, the world — but voters’ lack of preparation feels lot like a classic job interview misfire.

No, it’s not OK if you arrive late. No, it’s not OK if you dress poorly. Those mistakes are bad, no doubt. But the #1 job interview mistake, in my opinion, is:

Forgetting to research the company’s website before you step into their office.

You might think, “Really, Danny? That’s your big payoff? Website research?”

You better believe it. When you study the company’s mission statement, staff bios, services and recent news, it gives you insight guaranteed to impress during the conversation, and helps you  to avoid the #1 job interview mistake. That’s why I included the approach in my book, Wait, How Do I Write This Email?, a collection of 100+ emails for networking, the job search and LinkedIn.

Why Does it Matter?

Let’s say you walk in blind and say to the employer, “I’m pretty much only here to talk about myself. You’re just one more company on my list of places to interview.”

It’s notable when a job applicant says, unprompted, “I was reading your website, and I really like how your team does _____.”

That _____ could be about anything. Doesn’t even matter. Many companies have a blog full of content, pick something. It shows you took time to “meet” the team before the interview. The extra effort also means you understand how to prepare, think about someone other than yourself and synthesize information in a way that’s relevant to the employer.

How to Avoid the #1 Job Interview Mistake

Before Your Next Job Interview, Go To the Company Website and Read:

  • Staff bios, especially those of the people who will interview you (also read their LinkedIn profiles)
  • Mission statement so you understand the company’s overall philosophy
  • Services pages to learn all that they offer
  • 3-4 recent blog posts/news articles/press releases so you’re up to date on their latest achievements; plus, press releases help you learn about company culture — here’s why

Then, you sit down for the interview with a knowledge of the company most candidates won’t possess. You can talk comfortably about the business and, more importantly, reference specific examples from the website that stand out to you.

And you answer, confidently: “I read about your recent clinical trial for the cancer treatment and think it’s…”

So the employer thinks, “Nice, this person did her homework.”

On the Flipside

You lose points when the employer says, “Have you had a chance to look over our website?”

And you stammer, “Ah, not yet. I’ll make sure to check it out after the interview.”

After? Sorry, after is too late. You need to bone up before the big moment. Or you, too, will be making the biggest job interview mistake.


For this post, YouTern would like to thank our friends at News to Live By.






Danny_RubinAbout the Author: Danny Rubin is a communications expert and author of the new book, Wait, How Do I Write This Email?, a collection of 100+ templates for networking, the job search and LinkedIn. For more of Danny’s insights and sample chapters from the book, visit his blog, News To Live By, which highlights the career advice in the latest headlines. Follow him on Twitter.




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