The interview process can be a daunting challenge. No matter how prepared a candidate might be, even the most capable and smartest of individuals can sometimes make a bad impression and not even be aware of it. Here, there are three common interview derailers* that can be the most detrimental to any professional looking to secure a new position.
Derailer #1: Camouflaging weaknesses, flaunting strengths
As an interview candidate, discussing your strengths and weaknesses are high-stakes questions that can make or break an interview. If an interviewee can make the company see their strengths and understand why they’re uniquely suited to the role, it can significantly advance their chances of landing the job. But there is always the worry of talking about the wrong strength, going “over-the-top” with self-promotion, or even underselling or overselling a weakness.
“When a hiring manager asks about a candidate’s strengths, they want to know three things. First, do they have the self-awareness to reflect on their performance in the workplace? Second, do they have concrete (measurable, when possible) proof to back up those claims? And then third, how have these qualities prepared them for success in the role? When it comes to weaknesses, interviewers are also looking for self-awareness within a candidate, but also they are looking for honesty and a willingness to improve” stated Dr. Ryne Sherman, Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessments and Co-Host of The Science of Personality podcast. Managers are looking for people who can acknowledge their best and worst traits, and for those who can translate this knowledge into something that will be productive and benefit their organisation.
Derailer #2: Exaggerating when speaking about personal interests
Naturally, people may want to try and make themselves seem more exciting during an interview. For example, candidates may overstate things about themselves, such as their hobbies to make themselves seem more interesting. However, it is important to consider what might happen if the interviewer is particularly skilled in those areas or asks a candidate to further elaborate on a point they have mentioned.
“Honesty is just as important in questions about hobbies as it is about work experience or skills. Getting caught in a lie devalues the interview and a person’s credibility. For many interviewers, if a candidate is willing to lie about small things like their personal interests, it may call into question other areas, such as their skills, achievements, and experience. This then places doubt over their entire resume, thus discrediting their entire interview,” explained Dr. Sherman. To avoid this, choose instead to find unique ways to spin the hobbies you participate in, even if you don’t believe they are particularly exciting.
Derailer #3: “No questions, all clear”
Although many workers are flattered or grateful to receive an interview for a job they have applied for, not every position is going to be suited to the person interviewing for it. When it comes to interviews, candidates should be more proactive during the process to better determine if the position and company they are interviewing for would be a good fit for themselves and their career goals. This fact can be established very quickly by asking important questions.
“Traditionally, candidates would wait until the last 10 minutes of their in-person interview to ask the questions that are the most important to them. Candidates should instead take advantage of the opportunity they have been given by asking good questions upfront. Doing so will directly showcase to employers their cultural and functional fit, ultimately leading to a better shot at landing the position, while also helping the candidate to see how well the position fits into their career goal timeline,” noted Dr. Sherman.