You’ve finally landed an interview for the position you’ve always wanted. But before you do a happy dance, are you sure you’re about to put your best foot forward? From showing up late to forgetting the company’s name, there are still plenty of ways you can mess up at this critical part of the process if you’re not careful.
But fear not! Seven successful entrepreneurs from YEC lay out the biggest mistakes they’ve seen from otherwise qualified candidates—plus, how you can avoid them!
1. You Make it All About You
Companies want to know that you’re a team player. They also want to know that you’re interested in their job, not just a job. If a candidate hasn’t taken the time to understand the company and explain why he or she can help make it better—‘Here’s why I’m the right person to help move this company forward,’ rather than the more common, ‘This job is a great fit for me because…’—I’m not interested.
—Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
2. You Don’t Do Your Research
One of the major issues we have with candidates is that they don’t understand what services we provide. It’s so important to do your research. I’m not looking for candidates to know everything, but just enough to be curious and have a two-way conversation. At the end of the day, it’s not just experience that we’re looking for; it’s whether you share the same values as us.
—Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing
3. You Fail to Ask Questions
Failing to take the opportunity to ask questions in an interview could easily cost you an offer. Job interviews are always a two-way street. You should come prepared with your own set of questions to ask either throughout the interview or at the end. This shows you truly care about the job as well as the company.
—Anthony Pezzotti, Knowzo.com
4. You Lack Passion
Interviews can be stressful, but that doesn’t excuse a potential candidate’s lack of passion or interest in what our company does day-to-day. Our team is fueled by passion, and a candidate who fails to be driven and self-motivated isn’t likely to receive an offer. If a candidate seems bored or completely uninterested in the work we do, why would we want him or her on our team?
—Hank Ostholthoff, Mabbly
5. You Reek of Drama
If a job candidate comes in with a list of reasons why it didn’t work out at her previous job, it’s a clear indicator that she likes to make excuses, and she probably won’t work well with us. We try to steer away from those who create drama and may someday even talk badly about us.
—Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop
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6. You Only Ask What the Company Can Do for You
Instead of asking what the company can do for you, ask what you can do for the company. Whenever we see a net ‘taker,’ we pass. Whenever we see a net ‘giver,’ we’re much more inclined to work with that person to bring him or her onboard.
—Peter Kozodoy, GEM Advertising
7. You’re Only Prepared to Answer Questions
If you come to a job interview only prepared to answer questions, you’ve already lost. Candidates should have an agenda. Sure, be prepared to answer questions and conduct your own research, but find creative ways to stand out. Share unique things about yourself that would never show up on a resume and ask great questions that can’t be answered with a Google search.
—Antonio Neves, AntonioNeves.com
Photo of interview mistake courtesy of PhotoAlto/Eric Audras/Getty Images.