Today I conclude my discussion of Dave Kerben’s article on job interview mistakes with a category I call: “Um, well, gee, maybe I could do this.”
• Talking themselves out of the job. While you are likely to be asked about your weaknesses at some point in a job interview, that doesn’t mean that you need to go on and on about your lack of skills or experience. Don’t knock yourself! They brought you in for the interview because, on paper at least, you seem like a good candidate for the position. If they have enough confidence to talk with you, you should have enough confidence to demonstrate what you know and how you can contribute. Discuss one weakness you’ve had and what you have done (or plan to do) to improve in that area. But keep other weaknesses to yourself unless they press for a second example. (My book’s Step 1: Identify your skills and strengths can also help you identify, and think about how to improve, your weaknesses.)
• Saying yes to everything. This is actually the opposite of the mistake above, but since it’s similar I thought I would include it here. Kerpen reports that some “candidates say ‘Yeah, I can do that,’ to almost everything that is asked during an interview.” It’s unlikely that any one candidate can do everything. It’s more likely that the candidate either isn’t paying attention or is so desperate that he or she promises more than can be delivered. Pay attention. Be honest. Demonstrate that, while you don’t know everything, you’re willing to learn those things that you currently don’t know how to do.
• Hedging bets. This is another one that wasn’t familiar to me, but apparently there are people who go in for an interview for a particular job and say, “I could also do [this other job.]” On first glance, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me. However, even if there are multiple openings, they brought you in to talk about a specific job, and you should focus on that. If you don’t get that job, you may want to ask them to share your resume with other departments or ask if they think your skills might make you a candidate elsewhere in the organization. But don’t bring it up in the interview.