Stacey Gordon founded The Gordon Group to help companies find and place qualified candidates into management, senior and executive level positions. As a corporate recruiter, Gordon has had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of prospective candidates and has found that most are “woefully unprepared for their interviews.”
Instead of prepping candidates one at a time, Gordon knew she needed to find a way to reach a large number of job seekers with the resources and knowledge they’d need to ace their interviews and land their dream job.
As a result of this epiphany, Gordon wrote The Successful Interview: 99 Questions to Ask and Answer (and Some You Shouldn’t).
I caught up with Gordon this week to discuss the book and get some insight into the top five mistakes that most job hunters make during the interview process.
Mistake #1: Not Knowing Enough About the Company
Prospective candidates need to ensure that they have thoroughly researched the company, have an understanding of the products/services, top executives, long-term objectives, mission and financial outlook. You should also know who their top 3 competitors are and why they are competitors.
Know where the company stands in relation to these other companies, etc. There is no excuse not to have used Google and LinkedIn to obtain information about who you are interviewing with, their background, how long they have been at the company, etc.
Mistake #2: Being Too Forthcoming – Don’t bring up your weaknesses until you’re asked.
The job description may say a specific skill set is “preferred”, not “required” so don’t start off by listing all of the skills you don’t have. I’ve had candidates say, “I know the job description says they would like someone who is an expert in Excel, but I don’t know it that well”. If you don’t know how to do something, relate that skill or experience to something similar in your past that you do know how to do and show how it will help you in this position. If it comes up that you don’t know how to do something, provide examples of how quickly you have learned similar systems or processes.
Mistake #3: Not Being Prepared
If you can’t confidently convey 3 reasons why a company should hire you the interviewer isn’t going to do it for you. You need to have an answer ready for every question they may throw at you. Being prepared will allow you to be confident, self-assured and leave room to let your personality shine through. You can’t be yourself when you’re fumbling for answers to the interviewer’s questions.
Mistake #4: Mentioning Children and/or Activities that Have Nothing to Do with the Job
Interviewers can’t ask if you have children, so why divulge information they aren’t allowed to know. It is so easy to get caught off guard, but try not to bring up the subject. This is especially true for women because the interviewer begins wondering how much responsibility you have outside of work. Everyone has children so the point isn’t to try to hide that fact. The point is to keep the interviewer thinking about your skills and qualities that make you a great employee, not the responsibilities that may detract from that.
It is also not necessary to put that you enjoy skiing, hiking and surfing on your resume and it shouldn’t be discussed in an interview either. Again, everyone has outside activities and no one expects you to be a workaholic, but depending upon what you mention, it detracts from you as a candidate and now you’re having a discussion about the best places to catch a wave. That may help build rapport, but if the interviewer hasn’t spent enough time speaking about your skills, your odds of rising to the top of the candidate list is diminished. And if your hobby is something like vintage car restoration the interviewer may wonder if you need to work at all.
Mistake #5: Asking about Salary or Benefits
Asking this question shows you want to know what’s in it for you before you’ve proven that you can add value to the company. Candidates are itching to ask about this, but really, there is no need. With websites like Salary.com and Glassdoor.com, there is a wealth of information out there about salaries.
Also, interviewees shouldn’t apply for a job without some idea of what the job pays. It wastes everyone’s time. You work in the industry and you know what you’re worth and should have a general idea of what companies are paying. Leave specific salary questions for when you get a job offer. That’s the time to negotiate.
For more tips like the ones above check out Stacey Gordon’s new book, The Successful Interview.