Interview Mistakes You Don't Even KNOW You're Making
I wrote the book Interview Mistakes You Don't Even KNOW You're Making, published by Albert-Brownson Publishing. This book is designed to help you become aware of the pitfalls that many interviewees fall victim to. As you become familiar with these, you can watch for them in your own behavior. If you don't know what they are, you can't be alert to them. On the Internet we all see articles that describe the top five or ten or 20 worst mistakes you can make in an interview. The largest number I have ever seen was 50. This book is the largest compendium of interview mistakes ever assembled—1765. You will never find a larger collection of interview mistakes anywhere. This article gives you many insights into these mistakes people make.
Interview Mistakes You Don't Even
KNOW You're Making
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
As a long-time interview coach, I hear about many interviewing blunders that happen on both sides of the interview table. Interviewers themselves are not known for being perfect. But if you are seeking to create rapport and a positive image with the interviewer, there are many potential pitfalls that lurk about in an interview situation. There are plenty of rapport killers and social faux pas that can derail an interview. As the saying goes, "What you don't know is what can truly hurt you".
I wrote the book Interview Mistakes You Don't Even KNOW You're Making, published by Albert-Brownson Publishing. This book is designed to help you become aware of the pitfalls that many interviewees fall victim to. As you become familiar with these, you can watch for them in your own behavior. If you don't know what they are, you can't be alert to them.
I know that going to interviews is one of your greatest pleasures in life. I know you wake up the day of an interview and breathlessly count the minutes before you can traipse into the hiring manager's office to lay your soul bare to this total stranger. Well, I think you can already tell we are going to have some fun with a very serious subject--finding and getting a job.
I've heard well-meaning people say to interviewees, "Just go in there, be yourself, be professional, and you will come across well". Good advice, but I wish it were that simple. Anyone can tell you to be on your best behavior, show good manners, and be attuned to other people socially, but these days in particular, many people just don't know what these social rules, guidelines and conventions are. It sometimes seems like good manners have gone out the window. They don't know the Do's and Dont's of well-mannered behavior. It's not enough for someone to tell you to "Be professional" because everyone has a different definition of the word "professional". We need to define and describe these behaviors. I do that in this book.
This book came about because for years my clients would always ask me how they should "behave" in an interview. They asked me what they should avoid doing. They asked me what the interviewer would see as bad behavior. They asked me what successful interviewees do. And what they don't do. In short, they wanted to know everything about how to think, how to act and how to feel in an interview situation. This book covers every conceivable thing you could say or do in an interview.
Most interview skills books only cover what takes place in the actual interview room. You will see that this book covers the full range of situations and behaviors you need to succeed in all those situations, from before the interview to after the interview. There are specialty chapters on creating and managing a cohesive job hunt campaign, working with recruiters and being smart about your resume and other written materials.
Awareness is the master skill. If you have it, all things are possible. If you don't have it, almost nothing is possible. This book is all about awareness. It's about being aware of what CAN happen in an interview situation, comparing that to what you actually DO in such a situation, and knowing how to REGULATE yourself so you act the way you PREFER in that situation. Awareness is your best friend. You need it. And this book gives it to you.
As you read through the interview scenarios and situations in the book you may be thinking, "I would never do that! That's nutty behavior. It's rude or just plain dumb!". And you'd be right. Yet people do those things. Some of the situations you'll see here are very, very basic. But for younger folks and newbies to the interview game, how do they know that? How do they know what to do and what to avoid? Read this book, that's how.
If you are a veteran of the interview wars, you'll find this book highly useful, on multiple levels. You'll first confirm that you indeed already avoid many of these self-sabotaging behaviors, and know that you are on the right track. You'll get a kick out of reading what some people actually think is acceptable behavior. Remember how many mistakes you made early in your career?
The most important thing you'll get from this book are the subtle, golden nuggets of insight that show you what you have been doing wrong all this time. Why you have not been getting that pass to the next round of the interview process. Why you have been feeling stuck. I can't tell you how many people contact me and say, "What am I doing wrong in my interviews? I have no idea!!". This book removes that frustration.
A major feature you will see running through this book is about how well you communicate in an interview. Interviewers want to know if you can be agreeable as you disagree. Can you be diplomatic? Tactful? Are you perceived as a know-it-all? The very bottom line every interviewer has in their mind is this: "If this person is this disagreeable now, when they should be on their very best behavior, how will they be once they are actually on the job?" Your task in the interview is to get a green light in the mind of the interviewer by passing the likeability test.
On the Internet we all see articles that describe the top five or ten or 20 worst mistakes you can make in an interview. The largest number I have ever seen was 50. This book is the largest compendium of interview mistakes ever assembled—1765. You will never find a larger collection of interview mistakes anywhere.
The Purpose Of An Interview
Many interviewers will tell you that they have only three things they seek to determine in an interview.
- Can you do the job?
Do you want to do the job?
- Can we get along with you?
In the first requirement, your task is to show how well your background is the perfect fit for what their position entails. That is called "showing the fit".
In the second aspect, the interviewer needs to know if you are truly motivated and excited about the position. That may sound odd to you, but many otherwise well-qualified people don't fulfill that requirement. They are over-qualified (so they may well be bored, perform substandard work and seek another job soon), they are using this job as a stepping-stone to another job, or they are practicing their interview skills. Yes, people go to interviews for jobs they don't want to get experience in doing interviews. (Don't tell that to the interviewer!)
In the third task, the interviewer is sizing you up by using the snowed-in-the-airport test. They think, if I was on a business trip with this person, and we got snowed in at some airport, could I hang out with them for a few days, or would they drive me crazy? Basically here they want to know if you fit the culture of their organization. Can they get along with you? Do you play well with others? Are you a team player or a quirky, unhappy, irritating lone wolf?
The book is divided into 16 chapters. For example, I describe mistakes people make in working with recruiters and headhunters so if you work with recruiters or headhunters this chapter will give you insights into how to maximize your time with them. As you read each mistake, think of the reaction a recruiter or headhunter would have to it. Your goal is to work together smoothly so you both get a win-win. Knowing these mistakes, and then avoiding them is a great start.
There are chapters on job offer negotiations, and one with resumes, CV's and cover letters. There are specialty chapters on running your job hunt campaign and avoiding mistakes about your resume and other written materials.
Then I break down the actual interview in terms of time. I have sections ranging from before, during and after the interview. Many people make lots of mistakes at the start and end of their interview, so I have those lists for you. I break down errors in the actual interview into verbal and behavioral mistakes.
Then I have mistakes that are made with dining interviews, and with those specialized questions known as "behavioral interview questions". These are the questions an interviewer begins by saying, "Tell me about a time when you...". Most people don't like answering these too much.
The lists are designed to be very fast reading. They are visually easy to scan quickly. Each item makes immediate sense. You will know in an instant what you have been doing wrong. You'll know exactly what NOT to do. When you read each "What not to do" it will be obvious WHY that behavior or verbalization is wrong.
As successful people will tell you, it's not what you have to avoid doing, it's
what you don't know that you don't know that can really hurt you. This book is your e-ticket ride to freedom. It will make you aware.
Finally, I saved the best for last. Or maybe I should say I saved the "worst" for last. Here in the final chapter I show you what some unfortunate souls have said and done in their interviews that resulted in, ahem, less than desirable outcomes. I call this the ultimate list of self-sabotaging interview mistakes. You could call this final chapter the Super Bowl of interview mistakes. These are truly world-class blunders. Top-level gaffs. These are industrial-strength boo-boos.
I hope you enjoy reading about all that could go wrong in an interview. I want you to laugh and learn your way to job success!
This is an excerpt from the book, Interview Mistakes You Don't Even KNOW You're Making, published by Albert-Brownson Publishing in June 2017.
To learn more about the book and to purchase it:
Copyright © 2011-
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Free Re-Publishing Rights For This Article
You have our advance permission to republish this article,
as long as you do not sell it. The author's name, web address (MentalGameCoach.com)
and copyright notice (Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA) must appear
in all reprinted articles. If the article appears on a website or
in an e-zine, the article must include a link to a page in the MentalGameCoach
website. We would also appreciate your including the author's bio
and full contact information in your article, although this is not
a requirement. For additional information, see our full article
re-publishing permission guidelines.