Only 2% of job candidates make it to the interview according to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts. That means, more than ever, job seekers have to be intentional about maximizing the interview and what happens during it. Interviews don’t have to be scary. You are simply answering questions about yourself. The more prepared you are, the better interview will go. These three things are common mistakes that applicants make in the interview. By understanding why they happen and learning how to overcome them, they will help you ace any job interview.

You gave too much of the wrong information.

“Tell me about yourself” may be one of the most common requests every job interviewer asks a potential employee. You may think offering information about your family, your childhood and your personal interests is the way the go, but all of these responses may spell disaster. Many of my students get extremely nervous about this question. They shouldn’t be. Keep the information you provide as professional as possible. They aren’t asking about your personal life. They want to know more information about you relevant to the job. An acronym I like to use to help with this is W.E.W.:

Work– Even though they have your resume of former job history, try telling them about some of your key accomplishments at a former job. Did you increase sales or develop team members? Did you create a new program or make the company more efficient? These are all things you can dive deeper into on an interview.

Education – Highlighting your success in school is great information to talk about in a job interview. Anything involving  success in leadership, communications or academic honors are worthy to be discussed. Things like perfect attendance or a high GPA are good things to communicate as well.

Why – Why did you choose the industry you are going into? Communicating this to potential prospects is a great way to reveal your passion for the position. Maybe you have a relevant story from your life that relates to the industry or you have family that worked in the industry that got you interested in the job. All of this information helps paint a stronger picture for why you are invested in the job.

Your values didn’t align with theirs.

When was the last time you had a value examination? Companies aren’t just looking for someone to do duties, but someone who is passionate about what they stand for. A good interviewer can always discern the difference between a candidate who just wants money versus a candidate who is passionate about what the company represents. It’s not enough to find a good company that pays well. You are essentially becoming apart of a corporate family. Just like a real family, companies want to make sure everyone joining them havw the same goals.

Take some time to write down your personal and professional values and make sure to cross reference them with the core values of the companies you are applying to. Try to only apply for companies with similar values as your own. Next, write down real examples of how you have exemplified those values in your professional career. This information will provide great reference material to use on the interview.

You didn’t follow up.

Following up is critical to ensuring you land the job after the interview. The first, most obvious follow up is sending a handwritten thank you note to the interviewer 1-2 days after the interview. The goal is to ensure the note gets to the company before a decision has been made. As common as this advice is, you wouldn’t believe how many people I meet who still don’t do it. This automatically makes you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants and helps you to be memorable well after the interview. If you want to add something extra, consider buying bagels, attaching the card to the box, and delivering it to the company’s office or e-mailing a quick 1 minute slideshow video presentation summarizing your strengths after the interview.

After your thank you card has been sent, your next step is to call your company back. The thank you card becomes a perfect excuse to call them. By simply following up to make sure the interviewer received the card, you can use the opportunity to thank them again for the interview and remind them why you are a perfect fit for the position. I recommend to not stop calling the employer until the position is filled. Once a week should be a sufficient time frame to check in.

Interviews are your opportunity to show off your skills, talent and brilliance. By doing your homework on the company and most importantly, yourself, you will find that answering the questions asked aren’t difficult. Prepare yourself now to make sure that every interview you have turns out for your benefit.

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