This Is How You Mess Up Your Interview Without Knowing It

Juan Guerra // February 16  

You came on time, you did your research and you feel more than prepared; now you find yourself waiting in a room with other applicants, and anxiety starts to build. Sweaty hands and a dry throat are slowly developing. You calm yourself down, in the end, it is not a big deal, it’s not your first interview.

Maybe you just need the position, perhaps it’s your dream job, many can be the reasons but, we can all agree that interviews are stressful. Your fear of rejection pushes you to want to give an excellent first impression.

Looking for a job IS a job! And as time passes by, the search gets harder, your motivation drops and your frustration grows. As this was not enough, you very rarely get any feedback on the way you perform in an interview, especially if we were not taken.

I’ve been interviewed many times but, real learning has been in the many times I’ve been on the other side of the table. This has allowed me to identified common mistakes that we millennials tend to do when striving for that excellent first impression.

Managing the working place is getting more complicated. Companies are shifting their recruiting strategies. Today the personal aptitudes we bring to the workplace can be even more influential than our actual skills.

It’s no longer only about showcasing our achievements but more importantly, is about how we make them feel, how do they see us fitting the team and how fast can they get us to performing speed.

How Do We Do It?

Very easily actually. 60% is body language, 30% is how we actually say it and 10% is what we actually say. That means that we can pretty much say whatever we want to say. But most of us, either we forget it or get lazy about it and that is where we fall. Check it out.

  • Not thinking about our small talk… Breaking the ice is completely necessary but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t filter it. Not long ago, this girl came for an interview and the first thing she said was:
Wow, if I would have known that this place it’s so far away, I wouldn’t have come…

It may have sound as a joke to her, but to me, it was more like telling me that she doesn’t want to be here that much. I automatically think that she will not strive her best if she is taken. She did redeem herself later but unfortunately, she set the interview mood right there with that line.

  • Not remembering our application… That is the only source of information they have about you. Go over the documents that you submitted or phone calls that you may have had. Given the large amounts of applications, they tend to take notes about those that get their attention, make sure you do the same. You will be asked about it.
  • Not knowing our weaknesses and failures… We all have them, it’s normal. There is nothing wrong with failing, after all, we are humans. It’s not about judging you, it’s about checking how well do you cope with your own f#ck ups. Are you aware of them and what are your plans towards getting over them? Do you learn from your mistakes? Not having weaknesses means that you are either too arrogant or don’t know yourself well enough. This means that you will probably have some hard time fitting the team, creating performance issues for management.
  • Not showing them who we really are… Interviewers spend the whole day listening and reading people. When you lie, your body language gives you away. The moment people do this, we feel that there is something strange about them. What they say is not congruent to what they communicate.
  • By trying to bulls#it our way in… Many times we are so afraid of feeling judged that we try to turn negative things about ourselves into a positive one. The worst part is that we think that we are sooooo clever and that we are the first ones to do this. These are some of the most common things I have been told when interviewing applicants:

My biggest problem is that I trust people so much that they take advantage of me

You may be trying to say that you will be very committed to the team, that you are a good person and that even though people take advantage of it, you are ok with it because it helps others. For sure I heard something completely else. On one side I feel that you have no idea about what weaknesses are or perhaps you don’t know how to deal with them. The other is that you can’t say no to others, which will make you take work for others that will harm your productivity.

My biggest weakness is that I am too perfectionist and this makes me feel unsatisfied with my work

You may be trying to tell me that you will deliver high-quality work but, I just heard that you will be very slow in finishing tasks because you will never be satisfied. This will affect overall team productivity because you will be holding everybody back.

  • By trying to be a superhero… You may be a very proactive person and take on many different activities but for more impressive it may be, I want to know are the skills that you gained from these experiences and how can you use them to drive performance in your position and support the overall goals of the team.
  • By not dedicating the time for it… The more things that you are doing right now, the more I feel that you won’t be able to dedicate yourself to our project. Perhaps you want to showcase that you are a self-motivated, proactive individual but what I hear is a clear lack of priorities and lack of time to commit to the organization. Perhaps you don’t need to mention the 40 hrs volunteering a week, basketball practice, university, and so on. Focus your efforts, it will increase your productivity. The one who is everywhere is nowhere.
  • Not knowing the why… Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? I see myself as the director of this department… Don’t do it. Other than looking for signs of aspiration and determination, this question doesn’t want you to fake interest in getting married to the company. Be clear about your personal goals with the position. Don’t think that is all about how you will support the organization. Great employers do care about your personal satisfaction and strive to provide you with the room for your personal growth.

Take away.

When preparing for the interview is quite hard to figure what to focus on. We feel that they could pretty much ask anything and therefore we don’t know where to start. Not that you know what to watch out for, here are a couple of tips to help you prepare even further:

  • Look at the position that you are applying, look at the development stage of the organization (is it a start-up or a 100-year-old company?).
  • Ask yourself how can you support the overall goals of the team while also developing your personal skills.
  • If you haven’t, take a weekend and coach yourself. Self-awareness is crucial. Understand yourself, identify your goals, strengths, and weaknesses, and develop action plans.
  • Work on your empathetic skills. Awareness of others is important. Always try to understand why would somebody do the things they do? In which situation would you have to be in order to act the way the other person did?
  • Communication skills. Get very comfortable with the stage and learn to minimize the room for miscommunication. Practice makes mastery. Read and apply.
  • Be proud of your achievements, recognize those who help you achieve them.
  • Don’t ever talk bad about previous positions or jobs. Learn to be professional, not emotional.
  • Practice interviewing friends for the position. It will help you get in the mood.
  • Join a student organization where you can develop these qualities. AIESEC comes to my mind because I was a part of it but I’m sure that all you need to do is google them to find the one that fits you.

Do not get demotivated if you can’t find a job. Looking for a job IS a job and the position that you find should be one that will help you get closer to your life goals. Work should not be a sacrifice, after all, we spend our whole life doing it.

After the interview, make sure to send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. Which by the way it’s something that rarely anybody does. If you really want this job, don’t be afraid to show it!

Give time to be contacted, if they don’t, then write to them. If you are not considered, ask for feedback and for tips on what exactly are they looking for. If you really want it, you’ll find a way.

PS: Just never forget to check your attitude. If you have been going to interviews for a while now, there may be an internal problem. As time passes by, the search gets harder, your motivation drops and your frustration grows.

Remember that the only common thing between all of the interviewers is you.

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