Wearing a Big Bird costume? Your birthday suite? Bad; but not what I mean.
I dedicate this blog to my good friend Aisha who has taught me the value of being humble.
Let’s face it; the interview process is fake, artificial and downright foolish. Don’t you just love the “tell me about your greatest weakness” question. I would love to answer, “I’ve been told my lovemaking skills are sub-par, I have a few too many pounds, and my breath, whoa”. What would the interviewer even say?
Yet, like death, taxes, and the show, the interview must go on. In fact, the most important part of the job search process is the interview. I can’t tell you how many clients have hired me for resume/LinkedIn profile but not interview preparation when I know they really need the help. Don’t kid yourself, you need the help. We all do.
The two biggest mistakes are not even what you might think. Most people think saying something foolish is the biggest mistake. Not so, since you can recover from foolishness.
Mistake #1: Not saying enough
To speak in generalities, hedging your words is like flying a plane that never lands. Since the interview is nothing more than a demonstration of your skills, knowledge of the company/position and attitude, not saying enough is a sure ticket to form letter denial hell. Oh, you like hell?
Don’t be scared to commit to talking about concrete, actionable examples of what you have done that demonstrates your skills. When you talk “around” skills, the interviewer never gets a good sense of what you are about. How can I hire you if I don’t know you? Commit and put yourself on the line.
Mistake #2: Saying toooooo much
Answers should be between 1-1.5 minutes in length. “Tell me about yourself” should not start from your mother’s feelings about your birth or cover every word of your resume since the interviewer can assume you were born, and he/she has your resume. The human attention span these days can only handle so much. Did you see that recent article showing we have less attention span than insects; I said insects!
Not being able to edit yourself communicates the message that you will waste everyone’s time on the job. Instead of a well written executive overview or giving a nice verbal summary of the proposal in a meeting, the interviewer will assume you will never get to the point, the point, the point. In this short term, click here for instant gratification, more than 1.5 minutes per answer is an eternity.
Foolish Example: Receiving a gift
Let’s say I give you a heartfelt gift. Mistake #1: You say, “Thank you.” That’s it? I shopped all around town, spent a decent chunk of change, and that’s all you can say? Last gift you will get from me.
Mistake #2: You say, “Oh my; this is the best gift ever. I was just telling my friend that the one item missing from my collection. I was so distraught. I have looked everywhere, gone to Amazon, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Trader Joe’s and Saks. How did you ever know this is exactly what I wanted? Blah, blah, blah.”
Try “David: thank you so much for your love. I feel honored that you thought about me this way”.
1-1.5 minutes per interview question.