Every job interview features an element of the unknown. No matter how much you’ve researched the company and reviewed your potential answers, there’s always the chance of an unexpected question.
In addition, there are a few key ways that a candidate can sabotage their own efforts. If you’re applying for a new position, make sure to avoid these common ways of damaging yourself:
Don’t Assume You Have a Lock on the Job
If you’re mid-career, with a lengthy résumé loaded with skills and experience, it’s easy to assume that you’re one of the top candidates for any job. But don’t be so sure: there are lots of people with impressive résumés out there, and chances are good that more than a few of them have applied for the same position—especially if the job in question is at a hot startup or top-tier tech giant.
Whether you’re a varsity player or just starting out in tech, never assume that the job is yours. Take the time to prepare by researching the role beforehand; and during the interview, make sure to give detailed answers to questions. Stay engaged with the interviewer. Even if the job is yours to lose, why take the chance on making the wrong impression?
Don’t Question the Interviewer’s Skills
The interviewer likely knows what they’re doing. And even if they don’t, you don’t want to potentially ruin the interview by outright questioning their techniques. “Are you sure you want to ask me that?” is never something that should come out of your mouth while interviewing for a position. When in doubt, just answer the query to the best of your ability.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where the interviewer seems distant or disengaged. They ask off-base questions, or it’s clear they haven’t bothered to read your résumé or explore your online profiles. In those circumstances, the same rules apply: keep calm and professional, while answering questions as completely as possible. Always keep in mind that, at some point in the future, you may end up interviewing for this particular firm again—with a better interviewer.
Don’t Talk Too Much
The interviewer wants to know more about you, but that’s not an invitation to give them your version of “War and Peace.” Providing detail is always good, but nobody wants an epic. In fact, for certain questions (such as “What didn’t you like about your last job?”), brevity is your best option (along with staying as positive as possible).
Don’t Just Rely on Your Record
No matter how impressive your résumé and background, you won’t land the job based on your skill-set alone. An interview is a great place to show off your “soft skills,” such as your ability to empathize and collaborate. Your interviewer is evaluating how well you’ll mesh with the company culture; show them that you’re effective at handling others.