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5 Mistakes When Preparing for the Job Interview by Tanya Smith

Jun 30th, 2010 | By | Category: Career Coaching

You’ve been selected for the interview to get that next level job.  Now all it means is that you have to get ready to compete.  Interviewing is a prime opportunity for you to market and test that brand you’ve spent time to create and it’s a likely part of your career management plan.

It can be a pretty stressful situation for many people to cheer themselves on in this setting, but if you take the right steps in the interview, it can land you the job promotion you have been after.

Let’s look at 5 mistakes professionals make when preparing for the interview.

1.  Not rehearsing in a mock interview

It doesn’t matter how wonderful you are, or how good your results are demonstrated in your day to day job.  Interviewing is not a “natural” event that you get to rehearse every day.  Find someone to do a “mock”, or rehearsal with you and make sure your practice environment is as much like the expected setting as you can make it.  For example, I was told that my interview would be by phone so I asked a leader a few levels ahead of me to help me by conducting a mock interview by telephone.

It will give you a chance to think through the type of answers you’ll respond with, possible questions you may be up against, and you can often get great advice on improving your response from the mock interviewer.  All without jeopardizing the job.

2.  Assuming you already know what will be asked

Just because you are preparing for the interview in advance and you may have some ideas of the questions that will be asked, don’t assume you can prepare for everything.  Believe me, there will be something asked that you did not prepare for.

Some common questions you can count on (even if they sound a little different) are: a) Tell me about yourself; b) Why do you want this position?; and c) Why should we choose you over the other competitive candidates?  Otherwise, the interview is fair game.  Do your best to prepare but realize that in the end, you need to yourself, your stories, and your accomplishments more than the set of 10 questions you assume they will ask.

3.  Not doing your homework

It is critical to get as much information as you can about the job, the company, the environment you may be hired into.  Why?  Two reasons.  First, you should know these things so that you know if the position truly is right for you.  Secondly, you will generally be given an opportunity to show that you cared enough about the job to do your homework – e.g. “So, how did you prepare for this interview?”  Talk to people doing the job, research the top challenges and wins for the department/unit, find out about the personality of the interviewers, read any special reports so you know their relevant metrics.

Some of this may be difficult if you’re outside of the company, but this is especially important when you’re interviewing internally.

4.  Having a weak opening and close

The last time I interviewed, I had a great opening.  It included key highlights of my career, titles I’ve worn not listed on the resume, key strengths, and a little personal detail (e.g. “Proud mother of 2 little girls”).  But when the time came to close, I was not ready.  I was asked the question I shared with you earlier in this article: “So, why should we hire you over anyone else?” and for a few minutes I stumbled in my head over all the things I knew I could offer.  Eventually, it came out of my mouth but it was certainly not as smooth and well-packaged as I wanted it to be.

My own lesson was to be sure to rely on the personal branding statement – know it like the back of your hand so that when the time comes, you can say it with ease.

To get this right through practice, practice, practice.  If nothing else is rehearsed, know your intro because this is your chance for the first impression.  Know your close because it’s the taste of what’s to come if they hire you.

5.  Letting rumors about your competition sink your confidence

Especially in an office setting, rumors get passed around.  Just because you may have heard you’re up against some solid competition in the interview, do not let that sink your confidence in yourself.  There is a reason you were selected to compete.  Whatever that reason is, capitalize on it.  Know your strengths and how they can enhance the position. Be confident that this is the right job, and you are the right person.  It will shine through in the interview.

Good luck!

About the Author: Tanya Smith of Be Promotable helps ambitious working professionals get the promotion of their dreams. To get instant access to her free special report on how to surefire steps to get promoted stop by and visit


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