3 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

3 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

PRA USA has been in business for 30+ years, and in that time we’ve seen candidates make a multitude of mistakes in their interviews. You can never say “we’ve seen everything,” because there’s often a new surprise right around the corner.

That said, certain errors keep rearing their ugly heads. No matter how much interview coaching we do, they still pop up. The good news is once you have them identified, fixing them is straightforward.

Here are 3 of those mistakes to avoid.

Interview Mistakes to Avoid1. Going Negative

This is a mistake most candidates believe they’re aware of, though they don’t always understand what it means.

It does not mean you have to pretend your entire career has been sunshine and rainbows. There’s no professional on Earth who can avoid negative career experiences. You won’t fool anyone pretending otherwise.

Going negative refers to the mood of the interview. You can talk about negative experiences, such as a bad boss, without bringing the whole conversation down. The key is:

· Discuss it in a mature, professional way.

· Emphasize how you learned or grew, from the experience.

To keep the discussion mature, think of the difference between:

“My last boss was an idiot.”


“My former manager acted unprofessionally towards the team. A lot of them were offended by how he spoke to them, showing little respect for their work. It cost us some

great people. I decided to stick it out, as the work was interesting. After a while, though, I decided to move to a company with a positive work environment.”

There’s a world of difference between those two statements. The latter is mature, acknowledging the issue without getting too emotional.

From that point, you can add something like:

“From this experience, I’ve learned I can hit my goals and work well under adverse conditions. I’ve had great relationships with earlier managers and never had to face this before. That said, I was able to separate my personal feelings and get the job done.”

You’re emphasizing the lesson you took away from the situation, which elevates the tone, keeping the interview positive.

2. Don’t Ask Questions

The traditional view of interviews is like interrogations. Candidates believe they’ll be asked a series of questions, and if they get the answers right, they’ll get rewarded with an offer.

There’s more to interviewing than answering questions. A successful interview is a business discussion about the position. It involves give-and-take from both sides, with you receiving as much information as you’re providing (maybe more). A positive discussion also creates positive rapport. This is important because what often puts you over the top, including over a competing candidate, is how the interviewers feel after it’s all over. If they like the idea of seeing you five days a week, it gives you the edge.

How do you make this happen? You ask questions. When doing your pre-interview research, come up with a list of them, referring to the company, their industry, and their place within it. Some examples are:

· What makes you stand out from your competitors?

· What makes it difficult to succeed in your industry?

· What are your plans for the next five years?

You also have to be ready to ask questions spurred by the discussion itself. Some examples:

· They mention the position is key to building relationships with their suppliers. You then ask, “What’s been your biggest challenge in making that happen?”

· They discuss what’s involved in getting up to speed on the position. You ask, “What are the goals for the first six months?”

The list can go on. The main thing is to always be ready to dig deeper into what you’re discussing. It’s critical information because you want to know what you’re up against coming into the job. Also, it gives you an opportunity to explain how you can handle it.

Going to the first example with the suppliers, if they tell you the biggest challenge is coordinating overseas teams, you could say, “I know that challenge well since I’ve worked with suppliers all over the world. I ironed out a lot of issues through my understanding of different cultures. Because of it, I was able to fix many communication problems.”

Now you’re having a business discussion, explaining how you can solve their biggest headaches.


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3. Only Preparing for Technical Questions

Most candidates prepare for an interview by reading qualifications, figuring out how they’ll discuss them. They make a big mistake in not considering the behavioral questions they could be asked. There’s a lot of material online about behavioral questions (such as, “What’s your greatest weakness?”), and how to answer them. We’ve made some ourselves. Most miss an important aspect:

All interview questions have a behavioral element.

When an interviewer asks about a particular skill, of course, they want to know your level of experience with it. They’re also paying attention to:

· How well you articulate their answer.

· Your attitude toward the work.

· What’s your method of solving a problem within it?

· If it’s not something you know well, do you show the potential to learn?

In this way, all questions are behavioral, so make sure to prepare yourself accordingly.

Avoiding these mistakes does not guarantee an offer. It does give you a big edge over most candidates, who continue to make them. Another thing you can do for your success is to follow this blog and subscribe to the PRA USA YouTube channel. We have 30+ years of experience in recruiting for the Electronic, Embedded, and Controls development fields. We’re ready to put that to work for you. Contact us if there’s something we can do for you.

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