I had the opportunity recently to ask this question to a panel of experts.
I knew the answer but knew I could also get some interesting insights.
Here were the findings:
- Lack of preparation, not doing your homework on the Company, the role, or the Interviewers.
- Not showing enthusiasm for the role.
- Asking too many questions (under the guise of ‘interviewing is a two-way street’).
- Talking too much or too fast.
- Not paying attention to the interviewers’ cues, not reading the room.
Most of these findings didn’t surprise me. I do believe that they do require further explanation.
- Lack of preparation is a catch-all and perhaps results in the remainder of the mistakes made. Preparation includes doing research, presenting yourself as a likable person with a great attitude. Creating great questions to ask from the research undertaken. If you are well prepared, you won’t talk too fast or too slow, and you should be versed in reading the interviewer’s body language.
- Energy is important. Showing that you are enthusiastic about the job, have the right attitude, and are the stand-out candidate in every regard should be aspired to by any serious contender.
- This is an interesting one. One of the panelists stated any candidate should prepare three great questions and ask them at the end. I beg to differ. Unless you are told to keep your questions to the end, it would be a far greater discussion if you could ask some questions as the conversation proceeds. Three is far too little. What if the panel answers your questions throughout the interview and you have nothing else to ask? That won’t create the right impression.
- This is an obvious sign of nerves due to a lack of preparation. Slow down, pause; If you have rehearsed the questions, you will be fine. Remember your answer frameworks and stories. I would also add, if you are prepared, speak confidently and tell interesting stories, you are less likely to be judged for talking too much.
- Read the interviewers’ faces; if you have given a comprehensive answer, they will give you a nod or an affirmative glance, ignoring this and perhaps waffling will show you are a poor communicator, ill-prepared, and create the wrong impression.
On another note:
Outside of interviews, never be afraid to ask different people the same question; you will always learn something new from the variation of answers, particularly from the very experienced and educated.
Tim Ferriss created an immense book by asking 11 questions.
“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” – W. Edwards Deming