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Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Your interview date is coming up, and you’re ready for almost anything. You have a travel plan and a back-up travel plan, and you know exactly how to show up on time, dressed for success. You know how to highlight your strengths, show some flexibility, demonstrate a relaxed sense of humor, and frame key elements of your experience in the form of stories and narratives. You know what to do. But do you also know what NOT to do? Here are a few simple, avoidable blunders that might send the wrong message. Watch your step and don’t fall into these traps.

Don’t blame others.

In the broadest sense, this one is easy. Of course you won’t badmouth your last boss or talk about how the company let you down. But there are suggestions of blame that are not so obvious. Any time the conversation turns toward anything the least bit negative—anything at all—stay on the alert. Edit your language carefully to make sure you aren’t inadvertently casting shade on anything or person who might be implicated in your struggles or setbacks. Not one negative thing in your past has been caused by anything other then your own fumbles. And since your own fumbles may not be to blame either, step out of this territory as quickly as you can. There’s a time for flexibility, nuance, and accepting the basic failings of human nature. A job interview is not one of those times.

Make a point of learning from your mistakes.

If you need to describe a time when you messed up, a missed deadline, a past job that didn’t work out, or a goal you once had that didn’t materialize, don’t just tell your story and call it a day. Tell your story and then shift gears to talk about what you learned. Explain how the experience led to growth and how you’ll handle the same situation if it ever happens again.

Don’t try to be all things for all occasions.

Your interviewer may ask you a question like: “Are you a leader or a follower?” or: “If you have to choose between meeting deadlines and producing quality work, which do you choose?” and if this happens, just answer the question. You don’t have to say you’re great at both. Don’t try to game the system. Provide the information that’s being asked of you. Tell the truth and answer in good faith. If your interviewer says “There are no wrong answers”, take her at her word. Show trust and respect and you’ll reap the same in return.

For more on how to shine during your interview and avoid the kinds of pitfalls that can hold you back, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing team at PSU.