How to Make Your Job Interview a Disaster

Your interview is with a reputable organization and there are significant opportunities for advancement if you are the successful candidate out of the crowd of other applicants.

If you fall into these 10 pitfalls, disaster awaits you.

You will be unprepared, you will look like every other person applying for the job and your chances of getting recruited are close to zero. ▪️ Have a skin-deep, superficial understanding of the organization; don’t spend much time researching their current performance and the critical issues they currently face in the markets they serve. This is an effective way to communicate that they’re really not all that important to you and that whatever their challenges are, your education, skills and experience will save the day. Make it about you not them. ▪️ Mention that they are only one of many organizations vying for your talents. You are in high demand so it’s no big deal if they want you or not. Remember, it’s on them if they fail to see your value and not bring you into their organization. ▪️ Stress your planning skills and the strategies you have developed in previous positions. If you have no practical experience creating strategic plans, promote the business courses you have taken as the primary tools of strategy success. Point out that the strategy development process is, after all, an academic exercise. Wax on about the importance of spending as much time on the plan as needed to enhance the probability of success. Never mention the importance of plan execution; it’s messy and definitely not a “sexy” thing to talk about. ▪️ Focus on the importance of being perfect; emphasize that your education has taught you to seek perfection regardless of the amount of time it takes. Declare that you’re proud to be a perfectionist and your high marks prove that you are pretty close to achieving that status. Argue that you are relentlessly focused on achieving perfect solutions to the challenges you are given and that your personal values cannot accept imperfection in anything. ▪️ Be very general when answering the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” It’s very important to be as vague as you can. You don’t want to be pinned down with anything specific as you could be pressed for specific achievements. For strengths, use phrases like “strong interpersonal skills”, “a good team player” and “effective communicator”. For weaknesses, “I take on too much” or “I haven’t solved the work-life balance issue yet; I work too much” are good responses. ▪️ Don’t ask the interviewer tough and penetrating questions. Reinforce the fact that you chose not to spend a lot of time preparing for the interview. Lob gentle questions that enable the interviewer to feel smart about his or her answers so they feel superior to you. This is critical for not standing out. You don’t want the interviewer to feel that you are interviewing them to determine if your interests are best served by their organization. ▪️ Wear standard boring business attire. It’s important to not display any imagination or willingness to be contrarian. In fact you must leave the strong impression that you are motivated to fit in with everyone else around you and that you believe it is important to conform with acceptable norms. ▪️ Play down your ambition. You will certainly be asked where you would like to be in five years. Don’t make it appear that you have bold aspirations to advance. Avoid being specific. Possible answers to consider are “If I do a good job I would like to get a promotion at some point” or avoid the matter completely by answering “I don’t really know. I just want to make a solid contribution and trust that my efforts would be duly recognized.” It’s important that you convey the message that you are happy to have the organization look after you and determine your future. ▪️ Never show you have a backbone. Run from tough pointed questions; obfuscate wherever possible. Avoid sticking your chin out with anything that could be construed as controversial. ▪️ Be ready for the “Why should I hire you as opposed to one of the other applicants?” question. Your answer to this is critical if you don’t want to be viewed as remarkable and unique. The key is to actually ignore the intent of the question. Talk about what you think are your strengths and ignore the fact that everyone else has them. Paint yourself into the crowd of people who generally have the skills and experience you have. You can’t afford to stand out from the crowd.

Follow these steps and you will likely have a difficult interview experience, and will be one of many unsuccessful candidates.

But if you think about these 10 pitfalls and have a plan to avoid them, you will not only have an amazing interview where you establish yourself as someone who stands out from the crowd you will also leave the other candidates in your dust. Related: The Simplest Way to Beat Your Competition