A friend of mine is responsible for interviewing all job applicants for his employer. 

I asked him about the difficulty he faces when trying to choose someone.

While his company administers a written test, requires several practical exercises and completes background checks, he also revealed that most applicants lose it all during the interview.

He shared the most common mistakes that he sees:

Misunderstanding the Questions:  This usually causes someone to say something bizarre that isn’t related to the topic at hand.  It also signals that the person is not a good listener.

Overstating Weaknesses:  Most interviewers want to know your strengths and weaknesses.  It’s a cheap way to get you to reveal what you lack.  Strengths should cover a wide area.  Phrases like “I’m good at working with a group.”  Weaknesses should be specific, like “occasionally I get so busy that I forget to cleanup my workspace before I leave for the day.”  While that may be a TERRIBLE example, you want the interviewer to get an answer that they can live with.  Don’t be like the young man who was applying for an entry-level, heavily-managed position who claimed that his biggest weakness was “not dealing well with people telling me what to do.”

Dressing Inappropriately:  Shorts and t-shirts are out.  So are flip-flops and droopy jeans with no belt.  My suggestion?  Wear the very best thing in your closet. 

Revealing Your True Intentions:  Your interviewer has to replace people all the time.  He/she is always hoping that whomever they hire will stick around for a long time, so they don’t have to rehire that position anytime soon.  No matter what you do, don’t tell the interviewer that you’re “just looking for a stepping stone until the job I really want is available elsewhere.”

Not Asking for the Job:  You might be surprised by the number of people who go through the entire interview process and forget to ask for the job.  If you want it, tell them so.  You might think it’s obvious by the work you did to apply, but your interviewer needs to see that you’re more eager than the fifty other saps she’s got looking for the job.  Ask for the job.

Annoying the HR People:  Most companies have a specific timetable and procedure for hiring.  It is customary to ask questions about this process when you first apply.  Do NOT call fifty times after the interview to keep asking if you got the job.  If they haven’t already made a decision, you’ll encourage the HR person to use your rudeness against you.

Saying Inappropriate Things:  This one is almost too easy.  Don’t be like the prospective firefighter who, when asked about his passion for the work, said “I’d rather fight fire than have sex.” 

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