7. Fail to listen for clues about the needs of the employer. Many interviewers begin the interview by giving you a background of the company and its needs. Treat this information as a gift. Once you have this information, you can tailor your responses to how you can help them fulfill those needs. The employer is looking for someone to solve their problems and, if you can convince them that you have the ability to do so, you will be far ahead of your competition.
8. You don't know when to stop. If you have practiced you will be able to clearly and concisely respond to their questions and let them know of your accomplishments. Avoid rambling responses that get off the topic of the interview. Do not be afraid of silence and do not attempt to fill in all "dead air." If you are unsure as to whether the interviewer has gotten enough information from your response, ask him or her if your response was satisfactory.
9. Fail to ask insightful questions. Generally, at the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Do not use this time to ask about benefits or when you can take your first vacation. The questions you ask should show your interest in the position. You might want to ask questions such as:
• What are the long term plans for this organization? For this position?
• What do you think are the most important skills for this job?
• How would my progress be evaluated?
• Do you have any questions I could answer before I leave?
10. Fail to send a thank-you or follow-up letter. A thank you letter has several good points.
• It will remind the interviewer of you and your qualifications. Few individuals actually send such letters and sending one should make you stand out.
• It can be used to expand on answers you gave during the interview.
• You can beef up areas where you felt you didn't do well in the interview.
• You can add additional information – the things you "wish you would have said" during the interview.
Throughout the interview process, keep in mind that the process is a competition. You do not have to be perfect, just better than your competitors. By avoiding these ten ways to screw up an interview, you will have a good chance of winning the competition.
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John Grobe is a retired federal employee with over 25 years of experience in federal human resources and President of Federal Career Experts, a training and consulting firm that specializes in federal employee retirement and career transition issues.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons