It happens to everybody: You make a mistake about something during your important interview. It my the way you dressed for the occasion and you went too formal or too casual. It might be addressing your interviewer by the wrong name. There are lots of ways a candidate can make a mistake, and it’s true that a mistake can possibly cost you the job. It’s also true that the way you respond to your own mistakes can be what makes the interview successful and gets you the job.
Mistakes Can Be Opportunities
Everyone makes mistakes, but those who are confident enough to admit their mistake and correct it appropriately are valuable in any workplace. If you walk into the interview without having done anything to hone your interview skills or research the company, then your mistakes will be more like learning opportunities and use the interview as a reminder to be prepared next time. But a mistake by an otherwise qualified candidate is an excellent opportunity to display how you will be on the job.
It’s helpful to remember that most interviewers will give you cues for correcting something. If you are not obsessing about being dressed too formally or whatever your mistake was, you can pick up on those cues and correct it. It shows that you are able to see past your discomfort and effectively respond to a problem.
This is a skill that everybody needs. When you get defensive and defeated about making a mistake, it’s making that mistake worse because you are amplifying and distorting it instead of seeing that mistake as another reminder that you are human like the rest of us. It’s a skill because it has to be learned, and you learn from your mistakes. If you make a mistake in your interview, that’s an opportunity. Learn from it.
An interview can be a very intimidating experience if you have never had oneor have not been hired after the last one or two you endured. Fear of failure can be overcome, though, with some practical strategies for success.
Do some research — read up on interviewing skills and make notes on what you learn. Google “interview skills” and see if there is more to add. Write down where you think you missed the mark, or what worries you. Ask the person who interviewed you where you could improve and if you could be considered for future positions. Be honest with yourself; now is the time to look in the mirror and be accurate, not idealistic.
Get some help — your list is where you start. Do you know anyone who can give you a few practice interviews? Are you acquainted with any managers or employers? Think about parents of friends, family members, etc. Ask them to look at your list and give you an idea about improving things.
Look for community offerings — libraries, community colleges, government agencies may have opportunities to attend workshops or use their computers to find information.
Record yourself introducing yourself — and don’t hit delete when you watch it the first time. Is the list you came up with accurate? What should you add? What were you surprised to see you do when you talk? Practice a bit then record yourself again.
Practice speaking in front of people — and expect to make mistakes. We all do!
Practice looking at people when you talk to them — if this makes you uncomfortable, start slow and look at their nose or eyebrow. I’m not talking about an unbroken stare, but you should look at the person you are speaking with frequently.
Practice listening to people — an interview is a conversation to see if you will fit into the workforce already in place. If all you are doing is waiting for the interviewer to stop so you can hit the talk button, you are not paying attention and you probably will not fit in.
Knowing what to expect and preparing for it will give you confidence. Knowing job rejection can be good helps. So does seeing FAIL as an acronym for First Attempt In Learning. Hone your skills and keep at it, because that’s how you get better.
You have worked hard and maybe even hired a professional, but you finally have a fantastic resumethat highlights every positive aspect of your career perfectly. You have followed every hint for networking and job search that you can find mentioned anywhere. After all of that you are still not getting called in for interviews and are left with the question of whether or not you should dumb down your resume. This is a popular idea right now because of the state of the economy. The thinking is that if you dumb it down, then you might get more interviews because you will no longer be overqualified for the positions you are applying for and thus not being interviewed. While there is a certain amount of logic to this it doesn’t mean that lying on your resume if a good idea. Any type of lie, even one of omission of positive facts can be used against you later on in your career. Most importantly, when the deception is discovered, it could be grounds for immediate termination. At best, eventually your boss is going to find out that you lied and wonder what else you have lied about. This is also a pointless exercise because you will probably be caught even before the interview. There is a paper trail to your life and often an interviewer does a cursory check of the basic credentials of candidates before scheduling an interview.You can’t be certain that your omissions will not come to light then and remove you from candidacy immediately. The better suggestion is to keep applying and handle your over qualifications in your cover letter.
There is an old saying, “hum a few bars and fake it.”There are times, and interviews are often the case, where this is the best course of action. While you never want to come off as entitled or as though you are superior, faking confidence can often be the difference between an outstanding interview and one that is a dismal failure. A great resume will get you an interview. A great interview will get you the job. Who needs to fake confidence?
At times, just about everyone needs a boost. If you are unemployed and have been for a while, it can be depressing and sap your confidence. People who are shy or introverted can also use a bit of help in this area. It’s not hard to do, and if you do it enough you will become quite good at it. There are only three essential steps:
Smile – This will immediately signal your brain to make you happier and more confident
Prepare – Know as much as possible about the position and company before you go in for the interview. This preparation will help ease your anxiety
Believe – Believe that you are going to do well in the interview; the interviewer will like you and select you as the candidate to hire.
Just fake it. If all else fails, pretend that you have the confidence you need. The interviewer will not know the difference. Studies show that you will perform better in the interview and you will ultimately feel more relaxed by wearing a mask of confidence.
How to Make the Interviewer See You as the Best Applicant
One of the most important aspects of mock interviewing programs is often overlooked. That aspect, making the interviewer link you to the position you are applying for as the best candidate, needs to be honed. It’s not difficult and a couple of simple questions are usually enough to do the trick. What is important is that in answering them the interviewer is already imagining you as the person filling the position.
This is most simply done by asking a single straightforward question. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you will ask the one question that has not been specifically answered. What current projects do you need my help in completing?
That simple question, tweaked to fit your specific industry, is normally enough to get the interviewer going on the latest project/team issue that needs to be addressed. You already know that there is something that needs your help or the company wouldn’t be hiring in the first place. The interviewer is likely to start talking about current projects that you would be a part of, what your role would be and what the company needs you to do. If the interviewer doesn’t mention what your specific role would be, that is the second question. Not only does this get the interviewer into a mental position where they see you actively participating in the job, but it also shows your ambition and initiative. This is also your cue to start brainstorming. The interviewer will probably start talking about key aspects of the project and you can start offering ideas and solutions. This will make you stand head and shoulders above the other applicants that simply sat there and listened, shook hands and waited to hear back from the company. The interviewer will remember you and, most importantly, remember you as someone with ideas and ready to get started immediately.