Most common job interview mistakes

Usual Suspects

The usual suspects (we are talking about interview mistakes)

Common mistakes, the Usual Suspects

The following tips are provided by your typical HR/recruiter blog posts. We don’t care for this advice because, at the end of the day, the advice is too general. Following the below advice is the bare minimum of interview performance. We don’t feel that candidates should feel confident about landing the job because they solve for the below-listed mistakes. In our opinion, the usual list of “Do Not’s” fails to provide any real help to a candidate new to the interview process.

Below are the usual suspects provided by your usual not so helpful HR experts:

  1. Don’t be late to the interview, arrive a few minutes early. (Duhhhh)
  2. Don’t badmouth prior co-workers, prior managers, or prior companies. (This is just petty)
  3. Ask questions during the interview. (You would be surprised how many candidates do NOT have any questions and this comes off as arrogant.)
  4. Don’t lie about salary, start or end dates. (You will be discovered during the background check)
  5. Keep it professional. (Keep your personal opinions out of the conversation.)
  6. Don’t ask about the benefits plan during the first interview.
  7. Don’t look at your phone while in the interview.

Blah Blah Blah. This is not interviewing advice. This is life advice, common courtesy and won’t make you stick out in a crowded field of candidates.

We at CareerTracker have a different take on interview mistakes and provide the below for you.

Try not to answer a question with a question

Too many candidates answer an interview question with their own clarifying question.

EG: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” We do not want to answer a question with a question. “What do you want to know?” does not answer the question. Start with your most recent experience first. This is more relevant than the beginning of your career. Talk about why you are interested in the position and why you think you are a fit.  At the end of your answer, share a little bit about what you like to do outside of work. This helps us appear likable. Answering a question with another question is wasting valuable interview time.

We know this question is coming. We should have an answer ready and shouldn’t need clarification.

If the experience on your resume isn’t relevant, it isn’t experience

We see a lot of resumes that have information unrelated to the experience listed in the job description. Candidates usually have a personal narrative for why they included the information but the hiring manager doesn’t have access to this running narrative of additional information when reviewing your resume.  Accomplishments listed on the resume should be directly relatable to the job description and easy to connect to the job description. 

pages filled with content says you are accomplished

What white space on the resume conveys

White space on a resume says “I could have told you more about my accomplishments, but I couldn’t think of anything” and/or “I got lazy”.  It’s dealers choice and the hiring manager is the dealer. House wins, player loses. In interview terms, the candidate loses. If we have less than a full-page than see number 2 above. To solve this, adjust the width of the margins on the sides, top and bottom. We can also increase the font size to help fill up entire pages. Half empty pages say “half qualified candidate”. Our Resume Builder has the tools so you can adjust the margins and font size to create a beautiful and balanced resume. 

Always tell the truth

There are too many interviewers involved in the interview. With this many interviewers, it is difficult to keep track of discrepancies. Many companies will run background checks, criminal checks and depending on the position, credit checks. Large companies may ask for a W-2 and grade transcripts. Be as accurate as possible when it comes to start and end dates with prior employers and salaries earned. If you realize that there may be a potential misunderstanding, be proactive and bring it up. This is the type of employee the company wants to hire. 

Provide your references a heads up

Send your references a job description and let them know what came up during the interviews that they should reinforce about your prior history.

Send a thank you letter or email to everyone you talked with

This is a strong move because so few candidates follow through. This is the opportunity to reinforce WHY you are interested in the position. If you botched an interview question you can say “I have been thinking about the question you asked me and wanted to clarify my answer. . . .”.

Ask the recruiter for any advice they may have

Recruiters will give up a lot of help with just the single ask. Remember, you are representing them. If you don’t look good, the recruiter doesn’t look good.  Recruiters want to present solid candidates. One unknown interview mistake many candidates make is not asking for advice. 

Two friends meeting over coffee

Too many interviews feel stiff because the candidate feels like the interviewer has ALL the power and they are in a position of weakness. Hiring managers want to work with folks they can have coffee or a beer with. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to work with people who are scared and nervous. Candidates that treat the interviewer like an IRS agent are destined to fail. Treat the interview as if you are having coffee with a friend and you will put the interviewer at ease.

Key Takeaway: The interview isn’t a process to be scared of. Relax and treat this in the same way you would treat a relationship with your friends. 

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