How good are you at job interviews? Find Out.

Articles on Job Interviews

Learn how to win at high-level job interviews, with easy-to-learn techniques that are proven to work.

Article Subjects

« 12. Job interview nerves: How can I manage my anxiety? | Main | 14. Interview preparation training: I failed an interview, what should I do? »

13. Interview skills: 3 big mistakes to avoid

Your interview skills can alter your career path for life. How good are your interview skills - will they win you the job you want?

Whilst coaching people in job interview skills recently, it became clear to me that there are three big mistakes people make that could be avoided.

Improve your interview skills by avoiding the mistakes others make.

Can you guess what they are?

Interview skills 1: People don't say what's on their CVs

People don't say enough because it's on their CVs.

Just because you have given relevant examples and explained your valuable experiences in your job application letter, CV or resume do not avoid using this same information in your interview.

In developing your interview skills it is essential that you understand the role that your CV has and the role that the interview has.

Basically the CV gets people to the interview. What is then said in the interview contributes to them getting the job.

If you hold back on repeating the information in your CV you may miss out on the job. It's as simple as that! 

Interview skills 2: They have the wrong interview mindset

When you are preparing for a job interview what do you focus upon and imagine will happen?

  • Do you think you are going under the spotlight?
  • Do you feel as if you are about to be interrogated?
  • Do you imagine that you will go blank and make a fool of yourself?

If these are the kind of thoughts that you have you could be undermining your interview skills - badly.

Why? Because it is these kinds of thoughts that can make you really nervous. What you are doing is practising being nervous every time you think about the interview in this way. This means that you increase your chance of being nervous at the interview. Why do this to yourself? It will only limit your interview skills and your chances.

People with good interview skills don't think like this. They have a positive mindset. They focus on helping the panel. 

Developing your interview skills involves developing a helpful attitude of mind, one that will help you win that job. How can you do this? By focusing on making it easy for the panel to pick you.

  1. Work out how to make it obvious to the panel that you are clearly the best person for the job.
  2. Work out how to stand out from the other applicants - find even tiny differences that could set you apart from the pack.
  3. Work out how you can be of value to the organisation and practise saying this so you get used to explaining it and getting your tongue around it.

Interview skills 3: Relate your answers to the specific job

What do you talk about in your job interview? Do you cover all the experiences you've had? This is not sufficient. It ignores much of what interests the panel or the person interviewing you.

Imagine a CEO of an international engineering company or a Dean at a University interviewing candidates. What is the MAJOR question they want answered? Is it what the candidate has done for the previous company or university? No, they want to know what value the candidates will bring to their company or University.

For example, they may be thinking:

  • What's the benefit to us?
  • What's in it for us?
  • What value will she or he bring to the company or university?
  • Will he or she fit in with our engineering culture and make a smooth transition into our organisation?
  • Will he or she bring international prestige to our University?

Your interview skills need to be polished enough to allow you to weave into your answers information on what you will do for them. You need to:

  • Explain how you can help them. 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and belief in their future.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of their problems and an enthusiasm to help overcome them.

For example, Australian universities have funding as a core need. If you can demonstrate convincingly how you can bring significant funding to the relevant university in the future, this will be even more useful than simply stating how much money you've managed to get in funding in the past. Of course, if you have achieved significant funding in the past you would also mention that, but add in the future too.

Link your answers to the specific organisation you are being interviewed for and explain the benefit to them of employing you. When you have developed your interview skills to do this you are making it easier for the interview panel to pick you.