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5 common interview mistakes and how you can avoid them

So you've made it past the resume review and are now attending a virtual or face to face interview! *Cue the applause!*

You've heard the normal advice: show up on time, do your research, and dress professionally. I've got five common mistakes that I see in interviews and how you can overcome them!

Mistake #1: Over-talking

This happens to the best of us in interviews. It could be a simple "tell us about your work history" or "tell us about your experience using this tool" and the answer expected is about 5-10 sentences but it becomes a 10 minute monologue. At the end, we kind of forgot the question we asked. Did we ask about work history or the tool? How to fix this? First, restate the question to make sure you heard it right. Ask a clarifying question if you have to. Start with a few sentences, try and read your audience and if not sure just ask"does that answers the question"or a simple "would you like more clarification in anything?" Often times, if we need more context, we will ask a follow up question or ask or more details.

Mistake #2: Not answering the question directly

Speaking of answering questions. Please directly answer the question asked. This is usually an innocent mistake especially when you're nervous. Here's an example:

Question: What weaknesses are you currently working on?

Indirect answer: I am really strong in PowerPoint and event planning on Outlook. I am great with writing and also really good with organizing events. (no mention of weakness)

Direct answer. I'm really great with PowerPoint and event planning. I could be stronger in Excel and using formulas. I'm improving this by taking Excel courses, using it daily and once in awhile going on Google to look up some tricks. This is something I'm actively working on and getting better at day by day.

Mistake #3: Using inappropriate names

Believe it or not, names are commonly messed up in interviews. During introductions, take note of names of the people who are interviewing you. It's also great to ask how to pronounce someone's name - and you can add "I want to make sure I pronounce your name correctly." I highly recommend staying away from sweetie, honey and other endearing nicknames reserved for close friends, family members and pets.

Another thing to keep in mind, preferred pronouns. My pronouns are she/her so calling me Koyu or Ms. Wenty (even Ms. Koyu) is absolutely ok with me. Don't know what pronouns to use? Stick with first names. I promise you won't mess up (on purpose).

Mistake #4: Not using the STAR method when answering a behavioral question

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Results. Here's what I mean:

Question: Tell us about the last time you solved a sticky customer service situation.

Non-STAR answer: I am really big on customer service and love helping others. (No specific example or event)

STAR answer: I had a customer call in distressed about a cancelled flight (situation). I looked up her reservation, figured out a new route, and rebooked her (task and action). I was also able to save her a few more dollars and she was very happy (results).

If you search YouTube, you would get a lot more examples of this!

Mistake #5: Asking for feedback about your interview skills at the end of the interview

So it's the end of the interview and you've asked some questions and you're ready to seal the deal. Your final question you want to ask is "How did I do?"

I love the enthusiasm here to really show that you're highly interested and ready to get started. A lot of times, hiring managers have to meet with their team to make final decisions before saying "you're hired!" They can't give you on the spot feedback or decisions.

Try this instead: "Thank you so much for the time and consideration. This sounds like a great team and organization. Was there anything in my background and experience that I can give more clarity or context in? I want to make sure I don't leave any questions unanswered." You can also add "I'm very excited and hope to join your team soon!"

I hope this helps for anyone hoping into an interview soon. I wish you good luck and cheers along your career journey!

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