Economy & Jobs

Common Interview Mistakes: An HR Insider Dishes on What to Avoid

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You’re on the hunt for a new job, but you’re competing against hundreds of talented candidates. How can you stand out and avoid the common interview mistakes that so many candidates make?

I spoke with Anna Huffman, a human resources professional for the last eight years, to get some answers. Anna has an MBA with an emphasis on organizational leadership and currently works in the telecommunications industry.

What are the most common interview mistakes job candidates make before, during, and after a job interview?

It may sound simple, but one of the most costly mistakes made by job seekers is spelling. I advise candidates to use spell check, read their resume a day or two after it has been updated, and ask a close friend or professional resource to review their resume. It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes will spot.

A common and costly mistake during a job interview is lack of specificity. More and more hiring managers are turning to behavioral-style interviews. We want to know about the candidates’ experience and how they have acted in situations, rather than hypothetical reactions. Candidates shouldn’t be afraid to explain their thought process in what they did. If it didn’t produce the ideal outcome, it’s good to then talk about lessons learned.

Candidates should always follow up with a “thank you” post interview. Of course, this isn’t always simple if someone is going through a third party. However, it’s OK to ask for the hiring manager’s contact to send them a thank you, or to ask the recruiter to forward it on.

How can job candidates stand out from the crowd?

Make it personal! It’s important for candidates to add dimensions of their personality to the interview. This is where being specific when sharing work history is so important. It’s perfectly acceptable to add elements of humor where appropriate. It can get both parties relaxed. However, it’s crucial that it’s not forced.

What’s the best way for candidates to follow up after an interview?

I recommend email or a phone call.

Do you have any tips for job seekers?

Network, network, network! This is the best way to share about yourself. Job boards are intimidating, and your resume will likely end up in a black hole, unread. However, don’t take it personal. Understand it’s a numbers game. Again, this is why it’s important to make it personal. Most candidates will likely go through an online application; however, attempt to make contact on the inside. This increases a candidate’s odds to have their resume read and scheduled for an interview. LinkedIn is a great tool for this purpose.

The bottom line? Looking for a job may be frustrating, but thanks to Anna, you now know there are ways to improve your odds and land that dream job. Get out there and make it happen!

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Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and passionate debt fighter who writes at DearDebt.com. She is currently climbing out of $81,000 in student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Rockstar Finance, GoGirl Finance and more. She has her M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU, loves karaoke, is obssessed with the Wizard of Oz, and is a ceviche connoisseur.