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BY Joel Junker

JMO Interview Mistakes

I was just conducting a mock interview and 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, I began to realize how good it really was.  Of course, there are mistakes and there can be those that arise where no matter how well you prepare, focus and study, you may make them, too.

  1. 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 DPP 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. 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. 
  3. Ask questions to demonstrate interest.  Companies want to see that you really like what they do and how they operate.  Make connections with the literature given to you, company briefs and the recruiters interviewing.  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. Don’t get 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, and just remain poised.

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.  Interviewing is the same way…be self-aware and use your checklist.  These are basic pointers that when not executed correctly, will easily rule you out.  Make the most of your 45-minute opportunity!