Submitted by Rebecca Summerfield, Career Services Consultant
The word “interview” stirs up many feelings—excitement, anxiety and nervousness to name a few. But, like any skill, your interviewing skills can be strengthened through practice. The biggest thing to remember is that the interview is all about YOU. And no one know you better than you do!
Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make in an interview and some tips about what to do instead:
1 Not answering questions in relation to the position.
A common question an interviewer may ask is, “tell me about yourself.” In an interview, this question means telling them about you as a potential employee for that role—a quick overview (30 seconds or less) of your education and relevant work experience (or skills) that you bring to the table.
For example, if you are interviewing for a hospitality job, you might say, “I am currently a student at Fanshawe College in the Hospitality and Tourism Operations Management program. I have experience working with the public, as I was a cashier at a grocery store when I was in high school. I believe giving customers a good experience means retaining loyalty and repeat business.”
2 Over-rehearsing and memorizing answers.
People often try to memorize their answers before an interview. This strategy is not effective because it increases the chance of you freezing up in your interview if your nerves have gotten in the way of your memory. It also makes the person being interviewed come off as robotic and not genuine. You want your personality to shine through!
The best thing to do is become comfortable with the points you want to make in the interview, become familiar with some of the more common interview questions and practice answering them using a platform like “Interview Stream” or “InStage” or by contacting the Career Services department for more suggestions. (Check out our recent blog about InStage to learn more.)
3 You're not sure what your strengths are.
We all have unique skills and experiences. Use the “job requirements” or “qualifications” part of the job description to relate your skills back to the skills that are required for the job. You may not have direct experience, but you could have some transferrable skills that make you a good fit for the role.
4 Not researching the company ahead of time.
Nothing turns off an employer quicker than someone that doesn’t take 10 minutes to research their company before an interview. Look at their company website and use Google to find out what people are saying about the company.
If you aren’t motivated to do this for the interview, the employer may wonder how motivated you will be as their employee. Make sure you rock the “do you have any questions for me?” statement by having a unique question that shows off your employer research skills.
5 Not looking happy to be in the interview.
Make a conscious effort to smile and make eye contact with the employer. Even if it’s a virtual interview, looking into the camera while speaking and smiling while answering will go a long way to not only making you feel more confident, but will show the employer you are excited about the opportunity.