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Four Job Interview Mistakes That Can Torpedo Your Chances of Success

What are the worst mistakes job hunters make? It turns out there are four big ones. These four mistakes turn up repeatedly when executives responsible for hiring talk about the reasons why someone didn't get a job offer.

If you make even one of them, you'll drastically reduce your chances of getting selected.

Interview mistake #1: Thinking like a job hunter

The only reason why an employer hires you is because they want you to achieve certain results for them. Or solve specific problems. In other words, you have something of enormous value to offer the employer.

Yet, most who turn up for a job interview think that the only one with anything worthwhile to offer is the employer. Result -- they treat a job interview as a one-sided affair where the interviewer holds all power.

To be successful at interviews, it's essential that you become a full participant in the meeting, retaining equal power. Just as the employer must judge if you're the right person for them, you must judge if this organization offers the right opportunities for you.

Go in with clear objectives of what you need to know about them, while putting your best foot forward in responding to their questions. Obviously, this does not mean being rude or arrogant. It does mean that you are proactive in directing the conversation and getting the information you want.

This is very different from the traditional job-hunter's mentality. It's about developing an assertive, confident mindset that'll get you results. Try it.

Interview mistake #2: Getting lost in generalities

When you are asked what you do at work, does your reply sound like a dull recital of an official job description written by a committee?

If so, you're losing a big chance to score at the interview.

Yes, employers do want to know what your responsibilities are. But they're more interested in hearing what results you achieved, your specific accomplishments and skills.

To put it another way, they want to hear how you performed at a task rather than just hear about what the task was. Use actual stories with names, products, places and so on.

Make sure you prepare beforehand, outlining specific accomplishments in brief story form. Convey slices of life rather than dull job descriptions.

Interview mistake #3: Not knowing enough about your target organization

It's not enough to read just the job description in an advertisement before you walk into an interview.

All other candidates have that same information. If that's all you know, you won't be able to distinguish yourself nor be able to tailor your responses to what they're really looking for.

Do your research. Tap your network, online sources, the company's website, people who currently work there -- in short, use any lead that can give you information about the organization and the job.

Apart from basic facts about the organization, find out a bit about their culture, what the position you're applying for is actually all about, the people you'll be working with and more. This kind of information serves two purposes.

One, you'll get a feel for whether this organization will truly fit in with what you're looking for. Second, it helps you prepare better for the interview. You'll be able to fine-tune your responses to anticipated questions.

Both are critical to success in your job search.

Interview mistake #4: Not being natural

A remarkable thing happens during job interviews. Someone who's normally down-to-earth, genuine and personable transforms himself into someone else who's formal, stiff and obviously on his best behavior.

He sits with an erect posture, dutifully answers all the interviewer's questions and in general, tries to do everything just right.

By not acting naturally, he ends up not connecting with the interviewer. When that connection doesn't happen, he will lose out. Irrespective of how much research he has done or how well he has prepared his responses.

That's why one of the best pieces of advice for job interviews is -- be yourself.

Stay clear of these big interviewing mistakes and you'll automatically better your odds or winning.

Mary Brent is an expert on job interviews and careers. Her numerous articles offer valuable job interview tips, answers to tough questions, effective ways to write thank you letters and more.


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