I know. Interviewing for a job is probably the most confidence-shaking, nerve-racking experience you’ll ever have.
It’s your livelihood on the line. But it sometimes feels like even more — like life or death. As a career coach, here are the three most common blunders I see, and how to avoid them:

1. You can’t describe your background. Every job interview begins with a simple question, “Tell me about yourself.” This is not the time to tell where you were born, or whether you are married, or what university you attended. Begin by telling about your career so far in very broad strokes. For example: “I’ve been in purchasing and contract administration for nearly 15 years, working in both the public and private arenas.” Next, tell about a skill you’re proud of. Then, finish with why you’re excited about the opportunity. Write the statement, time it, and keep it to no more than 90 seconds.

2. You can’t say why you are looking for a new job. If you were fired or let go, this can be tricky. For the most part, it’s wise to talk about how you are looking to: “make a bigger contribution” “grow in my profession,” or “find a new challenge.”

3. You don’t do your research. Go to LinkedIn and research the company, the employees, and the crew that is interviewing you. LinkedIn usually has a 150-word description of the company. If the corporate values aren’t listed there, go to the website. Record and memorize them. Then, look up the recruiter and the other people interviewing you. Find what you have in common. Make careful notes, and memorize them. Also, look for employees in the company at your level, or even better – someone who used to work at the company. Connect with them and ask for a short phone call. You can learn so much! Good questions to ask: When did you join the company? What do you think made a difference when you were hired? Why did you leave?

4. You name your desired salary. Just as in a money negotiation, the first person who names a number loses. As soon as you say $85,000, the recruiter makes a mental note to offer you $87,000. Her budget was likely $80,000 – $100,000. By saying $85,000, you just lost $15,000 – the first year, and every year you work for that company! You want to avoid numbers at all costs. It’s better to say, “I think it’s more important now to see if the job is a right fit for me.” Or, “What is your salary band for this position?” I give my clients 20 different ways to avoid saying a number. It’s good to have some phrases, in writing, that you can read when you need them.

5. You don’t set your apart from other candidates. The single most important way to distinguish yourself, your skills and your experience is to tell stories about your career. I call these STAR stories, because they tell the Situation, Thinking, Actions and Results of a work situation. You need about 7 STAR stories to face an interview with confidence. You only need 7 because each story tells so many great things about your personality, your interpersonal skills, your knowledge and your dependability. No one else has your stories, so each one makes you completely unique in a sea of job candidates. Interviewing is so important that many clients pay to work with me to develop strategies, answers, and so much more. If you have a job interview in your future, I would love to help. Check out my exclusive Interview Prep and Salary Negotiation package.

Catherine Jewell
The Career Passion® Coach
PS: Please forward this email to your favorite job seeker. Interview Prep makes all the
difference – between unemployed and success.
Links: careerpassioncoach.com/execresume-interviewprep

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