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The Interview Moment of Truth – Learning from my mistakes


After two job searches, I’ve been through loads of interviews.  Here’s a few of the big mistakes I made, they may seem obvious, but often this is what we overlook.  No use any of you making the same mistake, so here's my least greatest hits.


One:  Too much prep, Too little practice

It’s all in the delivery.  I would figure out the key questions I expected to get and write out my answers.  That is good.  However, I never practiced saying the answers aloud – so when the time came, I just rambled or sounded mechanical.   The solution: Practice saying your answers aloud 5 or 6 times.  You will feel more confident, cut out the clutter in your answers and sound natural.


Two: Not talking to an insider(s) before my interview

The best answer is one that interviewer can apply to what they see as needs.  By not talking with people in advance, I just missed the chance to tailor my answer to better show how my experience fit their company's needs.  

There are loads of ways to learn about a company, but the best way is to meet a current employee.  Spend a coffee with someone and you’ll be amazed at what you did not know.  You get a good feel for the culture, common language used and issues facing the firm.  

For example, I interviewed at firm where collaboration between department was very important for all projects.  I had experience like that in the past, so all I had to do was weave it into my answers. 


Three: Build the brand in advance

Sometimes it’s not the best skill, but the best brand that gets the job.  I figured the ask to interview was enough, but in a highly competitive and connected market, you need to work your story into people in advance.  After hearing "We have a candidate who is well known" a couple of times, I realized that the more people that know your story inside a company, the better the chances you advance in the process.  Work your network like crazy to either meet people inside the firm or have your network call on your behalf.  Don’t try to sell yourself, just reach out to connect.


Four: Let the story build

I felt compelled to share my amazing story in its full glory… well, it seemed amazing to me.  Think of your answers like a commercial – short, informative and compelling.  If the person interviewing wants to learn more, then they will ask.  If they don’t ask, then perhaps they heard enough or it’s not a key decision point for the position.  Either way, just be patient and build your story.    


Five: Being able to answer “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”

This is an easy one to miss, because we focus so heavily on what to say about ourselves.  It only took me once of answering this question with “Ummm, let’s see…” to know I needed a change.  I prepared a written set of questions for every interview and brought copies to share.  Many questions got answered during the interview, but there several that did not about the position, business model, peers, current staff, etc.  I highly recommend, “201 Best Questions To Ask On Your Interview” by John Kador – a great resource.


As always, hope this helps!

Good luck today!

Mark Richards