5 Interview Mistakes JMOs Make and How to Avoid Them

After conducting a mock interview recently, I had a candidate asked me, “What are typical mistakes that every candidate makes during the interview process at the Career Conference?”  The more I thought about this question, the more I began to realize how good it really was.  Here are some common mistakes I have seen recently and suggestions on how to avoid them.

  1. Long winded answers.  If the question is not going to get you the job, don’t take 30 minutes to answer it … or 10 minutes … or even 7.  You want to remain in that 2- to 3-minute length for almost all questions.  Candidates in the Cameron-Brooks Development and Preparation Program know this, but when you get into an interview, you get nervous and the recruiter says, “Tell me about yourself…,” and 17 minutes later, you’re finished – with both your answer and the opportunity in front of you.  This happens!  Watch yourself once you step in that door.  Be self-aware.
  2. No Personality or Stoic.  Companies want to see you smile and get to know you for you.  However, do not laugh too much, nervously smile too often and lose touch of your professionalism.  You must remain strong, confident and purposeful with your answers and approach, yet bring out your personality.
  3. Asking Self-Serving Questions.  The questions you ask in an interview should not be about “what you want” but should demonstrate interest.  Companies want to see that you really like what they do and how they operate.   Product, process and background information are all good focus areas, but try to build bridges with your questions so you can demonstrate not only that you have the factual information down, but you have envisioned yourself in the position and can foresee the work-life.
  4. Body Language.  I meet with companies after they interview candidates and, sure enough, there are always examples of an interviewee playing with their hands too much, having nervous compulsive movements or not looking the recruiter in the eye.  Relax.  Watch your movements and the inflection of your voice.
  5. Getting too Comfortable. Stay on top of your game.  As you start your interviews, you will actually enjoy the process of meeting the recruiters and learning about the companies from their perspective, as well as talking about yourself for 2 straight days.  It can be very exciting and (actually) fun!  Maintain your focus.  Do not loosen up too much; remember the position for which you are interviewing and your professionalism.  Connect and build rapport with the recruiter, but remain poised.

How can you avoid these?  Prepare, prepare then practice, practice and practice even more.  Then, once you walk into the room for your interview, stay in tune with yourself.  It reminds me of golf – you have so much to remember and a checklist when you step up to that tee box, but once you have to do it, just swing away and don’t think about where your feet are, how your head is aligned, etc.  Interviewing is the same way…be self-aware and use your checklist, but then be you and interview!

Joel Junker