How to Avoid Job Interview Pitfalls

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  • 0:03 Job Interview
  • 1:27 What Not to Do
  • 3:42 What to Do
  • 5:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

The job interview is an important moment for many people. But many people make mistakes that could cost them the job. In this lesson, we'll examine some common interview pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them.

Job Interview

Imagine that you are interviewing candidates for a position in your company. Charlie is the first guy that you interview. He's got a great resume, lots of experience, and he went to a prestigious university. But at the interview, Charlie doesn't listen to you and acts like he knows everything. He just wants to talk about the salary and benefits of the job.

Then you interview Candace. She doesn't have as much experience as Charlie, and her college wasn't as well-known. But she leans forward and smiles as you talk, making it clear that she's really listening. She gives thoughtful answers to your questions and really seems interested in the job and the company.

Who are you more likely to hire? If you're like most people, you'd rather take Candace than Charlie because she didn't make the same mistakes as Charlie did during his interview.

A job interview is a conversation between a job applicant and a representative from the company that's hiring. Job interviews can happen on the phone or in person, and there can be one or more applicants and one or more representatives. In short, there are many different types of job interviews!

But there are a few things that are common about all of the different types of interviews, including some common pitfalls that job seekers can fall into. Let's look closer at what not to do during an interview and what you should do instead.

What Not to Do

Remember Charlie? He made some serious mistakes in his job interview. As the person interviewing him, you decided that you didn't want to hire him based on his interview. But what, exactly, did Charlie do that was so bad? There are many ways to mess up a job interview. They include:

1. A know-it-all attitude. Remember that Charlie acted like he knew everything. But the truth is that his knowledge is limited. As the person hiring for the company, you know much more than he does about what the company needs and looks for. Charlie should demonstrate that he has knowledge but that should also be tempered with humility and an understanding that he can still learn and grow.

2. Focusing solely on salary and benefits. Charlie didn't seem very interested in the company or the job he was interviewing for. All he wanted to talk about was the salary and benefits that came with the job. This makes it look like Charlie will not be a dedicated worker for the company. As the person doing the interview, you'd rather choose someone who is enthusiastic about the job, not one who is only in it for the paycheck.

3. Poor body language. When you were interviewing Charlie, he slumped down in his chair and crossed his arms across his chest. He didn't make eye contact, and he didn't give any indication that he was listening to you. Poor body language like that can make Charlie seem uninterested, rude, or even hostile. These are not good things to portray in an interview!

4. Trash talking former employers. Charlie didn't have the best experience at his last job. He didn't get along with his boss and felt like the company made some bad decisions about products. And you know this because he talked about it during the interview. This isn't a good thing; it makes it seem like Charlie is difficult to get along with, and also it makes you worry that, if you hire him, he might eventually be talking bad about you and your company. Instead, Charlie should have said something simple but positive or neutral about his former employer. He could have said, for example, 'I learned a lot about how companies make product decisions while working for them.'

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