5 Interviewing Tips From An Interviewing Failure

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

It seems counter-intuitive, right? To take advice from someone who is classifying themselves as a failure? However, someone who has never failed at an interview can only tell you what has worked… they can’t tell you what hasn’t. They don’t have insight into the common mistakes that people unknowingly make in an interview, subtle nuances that make all of the difference.  Which is why I am writing this post, because when I was looking for my first real position, I made all of the mistakes in the book, and learned a great deal in the process. I hope you will find value in the following (Mainly because it will make me feel better about how long it took me to secure the job I wanted.) But also, because I wish someone had been there when I had no answers, to say, “Hey man, don’t worry about it, I’ve been doing this wrong forever, so let me give you some advice.”

I need to start with a disclaimer that I am not a complete and utter interviewing failure. I have held 10 different positions in my young career, and am gainfully employed at the moment with an innovative marketing agency, while also working on a start-up company with one of my close friends (and mentor). However, my qualifications of a failure need not be understated either. Over the course of a 10 month period, I interviewed with over 50 different companies. In some cases, making it to the final round of an interview, but in every case, failing to bring home the prize. So I would comfortably say I’m an expert at failing. Here we go:

Picture taken from Google images.

1. Know the company – It sounds simple, but it’s something that I didn’t really understand for a long while. When I say, ‘know the company,’ I mean more than just the name, industry, and stock performance year on year. I mean REALLY know the company. For example, the personality of the employees (culture), something interesting the CEO said in a speech, or recent awards they may have won. Arm yourself with just one of those interesting items, and it will go a long way to help your cause.

2. Know the Industry – It’s not enough to simply know how the company works, but you have to have an understanding of the industry it competes in. Take a look at industry evaluations like the Forrester Wave or the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Or, if you don’t have access to those, look up news articles or blogs that talk about the major players in said industry, and where the industry is going in the future. An interviewer will always be impressed if you ask a question about how a new technology is impacting their field because you read an article about it in the Wall Street Journal.

3. Remember, Interviewers Are People Too – Here is where a lot of people falter, myself included at times. Especially in an interview, we tend to clam up, to get nervous, and to become paranoid about saying the wrong thing or not getting the questions right. It’s important to remember that the person interviewing you is also a human being, and therefore will care about more than if you can answer an arbitrary question with the textbook answer. Overall, they have to like you. So be personable, start with a light-hearted joke about the weather, or find a connection like a favorite sport or an alma mater. At the end of the day, it’s much more important that they remember you as the man/woman they had fun talking to than the one who got all of the questions correctly. (Obviously, you can’t bomb the questions either. My point is simply that people make decisions based on emotion, it’s just who we are. So make sure they like you!)

4. Don’t Be Overly Prepared – Yes, that’s right, I said Overly prepared. Clearly, being under-prepared is also an issue. However, being overly-prepared can also cause problems. For instance, having pages upon pages of notes in front of you will cause you to get flustered and overwhelmed at each question. If you want to have notes in front of you, make them quick bullets, and limit yourself to one page. That way, your bullet points will remind you of talking points, but won’t cause you to read ver batim with your head down (which we tend to do when we’re nervous). Relax, take a breath. It’s alright to say to the interviewer, “Let me think about that for a second. I want to give the best example.”

5. Be EXCITED! – This, to me, is by far the most important tip that I can give you. Be excited! About the job, the interview, the company, everything. I’m not saying you should knock the person over when you meet them, or completely praise the company as a perfect workplace, because that will come off as phony, and not genuine. However, in the feedback I received in some of my interviews, the reason I didn’t advance to a final round, or get the job was almost always, “Didn’t show that he wanted the position.” In my case, as I imagine some of you may be feeling, after hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again, it’s tough to ‘get up’ for each interview. You start to go through the motions. But like I said earlier, interviewers are people too, and they want to hire people that want to be hired. Wouldn’t you?

That’s all folks. After my many trials and tribulations, these are the 5 most important pieces of advice I have to give. Perhaps they won’t work for you, but hopefully they will. In the end, we all find our way. Just don’t get discouraged, keep your head up, and know that when things finally go right, it makes everything worth it.

Follow me on Twitter: @billconnolly

  1. DriTV says:

    thanks for the advice!!! i really like the sites you linked in #2

  2. […] SOMEONE HIRE WILL? Will Connelly, who has interviewed with more than 50 companies, has some advice for us. Tony Schwartz, chief executive and author, explains how he became an […]

  3. […] SOMEONE HIRE WILL? Will Connelly, who has interviewed with more than 50 companies, has some advice for us. Tony Schwartz, chief executive and author, explains how he became an […]

  4. […] SOMEONE HIRE WILL? Will Connelly, who has interviewed with more than 50 companies, has some advice for us. Tony Schwartz, chief executive and author, explains how he became an […]

  5. […] post is a follow-up to a post I wrote last week entitled, “5 Interviewing Tips from an Interviewing Failure.” I had written that post with very little expectation, and received tons of positive feedback, […]

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