Top Five Mistakes Candidates Make in Answering Interview Questions

1. They don't understand or think about what the employer is asking from the employer's point of view. Candidates don't stop and think, Is the employer asking, "Can I do the job? Do they like me? Am I a risk? (and what kind?) Can we work the money out?" Candidates have to realize from what point of view the employer is acting and answer accordingly.

2. They answer interviewing questions from their point of view.

They try to justify things like being fired, being out of work six months, getting laid off, etc. from their own point of view. They try to explain that they are right, and they were wronged by someone else.

3. Candidates start answering the question before they clearly understand it. People are nervous, and in interviewing situation, they start answering a question before they really understand. There's nothing wrong with asking the hiring or interviewing authority to restate a question for you to get a better understanding of it.

4. Candidates adopt an "I'm not worried about answering questions. I do fine at ad-libbing answers. I think great on my feet!" attitude toward interviewing questions. This kind of attitude leads to disaster. No matter how well a person thinks on his or her feet, the interviewing process is more sophisticated than it has ever been. Ad lib won't hack it.

5. Candidates don't practice questioning and answering to the point where they're prepared for just about any interview situation. Answering questions well takes a lot of practice and preparation. The candidates who prepare well for interviewing questions get the offers.

Top Ten Mistakes That Candidates Make When They Are Invited Back for Subsequent Interviews

1. Candidates think that because they have been invited back, they're going to get hired. Subsequent interviews beyond the initial interview are simply steps in the process. Managing the steps is different than an initial interview.

2. Candidates treat subsequent interviews in the same way that they treated an initial interview. Although the basic presentation of yourself is the same, subsequent interviews beyond the initial interview need to be "customized" and refined to do them correctly.

3. They don't get a clear idea of how many other candidates are being moved to the next step and what their backgrounds are.

Interviews beyond the initial interview are like the playoff season in sports. The competition is keener. Candidates have to get a really good idea about how many other candidates are being moved to the next level and what their backgrounds are. Successful candidates will also find out where their perceived weaknesses might be compared to the other candidates. In other words, "How do I stack up to the other people that I'm competing with?"

4. Candidates don't solicit the help of the initial interviewing authority in "promoting" them to the next step. Before subsequent interviews, a candidate should meet with, or at least contact by phone,

the initial interviewing authority to find out everything there is to know about the subsequent interviews and the people who will conduct them. The candidate should ask about how many interviews there will be and, more important, whom the interviews will be with. Knowing the background, interviewing style, and as much detail as possible about the people who will be conducting the subsequent interviews is essential.

5. Candidates are not clear about how the subsequent interviews might differ from the initial interviews. Asking the initial interviewing or hiring authority questions like, "What will be the main focus of the subsequent interviews? Over and above what I communicated to you in the initial interview, what more will these interviewing authorities want? Based on our initial interview, what are the strengths I should highlight or weaknesses that I should augment in the subsequent interviews?" Get the idea? The candidate can't assume that subsequent interviews are like the initial interviews.

6. They don't research the company and the position as well as the people doing the subsequent interviewing in even more depth than the initial interview. Since the candidate now has a better idea of what the company might want in hiring someone, he or she should do more in-depth research about the job, the interviewing and hiring authorities, peers, and anything else that might be pertinent. Know your target!

7. The candidate doesn't "go the extra mile" in subsequent interviews. I encourage candidates to develop 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans as to what they would do in the first 90 days of employment and pass them out to the interviewing authorities in subsequent interviews. Some candidates prepare PowerPoint presentations on themselves and their ability to do the job and use them in subsequent interviews. Any kind of activity or effort that will set a candidate apart from the other candidates in subsequent interviews is great.

8. Candidates relax and forget that it's in the subsequent interviews where most excellent candidates get eliminated. A good candidate recognizes many tests to interview better and work harder in subsequent interviews than he or she did in the initial interviews.

9. Candidates neglect to get the support of the subsequent interviewing authorities. This means asking every interviewing or hiring authority in subsequent interviews if they're going to endorse your being hired. Candidates need to ask every subsequent interviewer after the initial, "What do I need to do to get the job?" and "Will you support my candidacy over the other candidates?" It is crucial that you get "buy in" from the people with whom you interview. You want them to commit to supporting you as a candidate.

10. Candidates don't realize how crucial subsequent interviews are.

Candidates have to interview better than they did on the initial interviews but also be aware that subsequent interviews are not the final. They are the "playoffs." They need to be taken seriously because they lead to the finals.

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