In conversations with hiring managers over the years, I’ve heard repeatedly that although there are a lot of great candidates out there, many don’t know how to interview effectively. I’ve also heard that there are a few common interview mistakes—like the three below—that can be fixed rather easily.
1. Sounding robotic and monotone
After interviews, hiring managers all too often are thinking something like this: “Her answers were technically very good, and she answered all my questions thoroughly, but she sounded robotic and monotone, like she memorized her answers. I was feeling a little bored.”
The reason for this reaction is commonly a result of candidates forgetting to be themselves while interviewing and thus they respond too formally, as though giving a prepared speech as opposed to having a conversation that unfolds naturally. The way to fix this mistake is easy: Approach your interviews like you’re talking with a friend you haven’t talked with in a while, like you’re updating them or sharing some new information. This relieves you of a lot of pressure and anxiety, making you more human and more engaging.
The end result is you show up as yourself, and hiring managers get to see who you really are and have positive thoughts after speaking with you, like this: “She was someone I could really see myself working with. She was easy to talk to, relatable, and I could really picture her in the role. She seems like someone we’d all enjoy working with and who’d be a great addition to the team.”
2. Lack of relevancy to the role when answering questions
Another common hiring manager reaction to interviews goes something like this: “His answer to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question wasn’t relevant to the role—at all. He rambled on and on, and I was thinking, ‘When is this going to end so we can move on to the next question?’”
It’s very important to remember that, when interviewing, relevancy is king. If you’re not thinking about how your answers are relevant to the role you’re applying for, hiring managers will lose interest and their minds will start to wander. The way to fix is this is to make sure all your answers tie into hiring managers’ needs and wants for the role. This means you need to understand the job description and skill requirements backwards and forwards. Of course, there are many things you can talk about from your background and experience, but you want to make sure to filter them through the lens of this question: ‘Why would they matter to this specific role?’
When you ask yourself this question—and intentionally get on the same page as hiring managers by thinking about tying your skills and experiences to the role—you’ll be able to easily address their needs in your answers. The result is hiring managers will come away thinking something like this after meeting you: “I really liked the way he explained his role in his last project. It made me feel as though I could trust him to tackle the types of problems we deal with here on a regular basis. I think he’d be a good fit.”
3. Coming across as desperate
A third common reaction to interviews is something like the following: “Technically she was very capable, but she seemed concerned that her experience wouldn’t be enough because she lacked some of the job description bullets. She was trying hard to overcompensate for that, and it came off as a little needy and desperate. I felt for her.”
When someone expresses self-doubt in an interview, hiring managers might feel bad for them, but they won’t have a desire to hire them. To eliminate this needy and desperate vibe that might be coming across, it’s important to shift out of a “scarcity mentality,” which in interviewing happens when you believe the role you’re interviewing for is the only opportunity you’ll get—and if you don’t get the job, then that will be the end of your job search.
The way out of this mentality is to stop focusing on you and start focusing on them—the hiring managers. Ask yourself: What do they need? What would exceeding expectations look like to them? Also start thinking of yourself as a valuable team member that hiring managers would be lucky to have, with a lot to offer (which is the truth!). If you’re thinking of yourself in high regard, you won’t feel so focused on one single opportunity working out or not—you’ll know another opportunity will come your way if this one doesn’t work out.
The end result of this shift in mindset is hiring managers will start to think about you like this instead: “She was very articulate in how she presented herself, and she didn’t seem to have any hesitations about her ability to figure things out. I think she’s the right candidate for the role.”
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their ideal roles and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). If you want to dive deeper on the topic of your career mindset and know exactly how to land your dream job offer, listen to .her coach you on her Get a 6-Figure Job You Love podcast.
Andres Lares is a negotiation and influence expert. He’s the managing partner of Shapiro Negotiations Institute, which provides negotiation, influence, and sales training to top companies like Bank of America, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, ESPN, and Verizon.
Often, what determines the outcome of your interviews has little to do with the questions you’re asked and if you know all the answers. Instead, the outcome is often dependent on your interview mindset—how you think about interviews and how you approach them.
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