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Some Important Lists for Job Hunters

Top Twelve Interview Mistakes Entry-Level Candidates Make

1. Candidates didn't research the company. They didn't know the CEO's name, the size of the company, its business, the market cap, the ticker symbol (for public companies), etc.

2. Candidates didn't sell themselves or forgot to communicate: "This is what I can do for you, because this is what I have done in school, and for others."

3. Candidates were nervous, had poor body language, or didn't look the interviewer in the eye. They obviously didn't practice interviewing or selling themselves. They say things like, "What would you like to know about me?"

4. Candidates didn't have a real understanding of the position (i.e., not doing their homework about the job) or didn't even ask about the position's responsibilities.

5. Candidates were not enthusiastic or did not demonstrate a level of commitment to work, the position, or the industry.

6. Candidates didn't share insights into their personal lives that would carry over into their work.

7. Candidates didn't know what is on their resume. For example, when they were asked a question about a part-time or summer job, they didn't remember much about it.

8. Candidates didn't have thoughtful or inquisitive questions to ask at the end of the interview.

9. Candidates were not able to differentiate themselves from other candidates (i.e., what makes them a better candidate than others?).

10. Candidates were not able to identify their weaknesses and show how they plan to strengthen them.

11. Candidates had an inability to relate what they have studied or what they have done to a business setting.

12. Candidates spent too much time getting ready for trick questions, such as, "Why is a manhole round?" instead of thinking about real, "Why we should hire you?" questions.

Top Ten Mistakes Candidates Make in an Initial Interview

1. They forget that this is a selling situation . . . and don't ask for the job. A candidate's objective in an initial interview is to sell what he or she can do for the prospective employer. He or she is so unique and so valuable over and above every other candidate, he or she needs to be hired. A candidate has absolutely nothing to decide about until there is a job offer. Success in the initial interview is the first step to that job offer. And a candidate has to constantly be asking "What do I need to do to get the job?"

2. They think that interviewing is a "two-way street." Most candidates think that the interview should be a give and take on the part of the candidate and the interviewing or hiring authority. An initial interview is a "one-way street." A hiring or interviewing authority is going to have available to them a plethora of initial interviewees for every job to fill. A candidate has to prove him- or herself superior to all of the other candidates before getting to an "equal" exchange with a potential employer.

3. They focus on what they want in a job. Most candidates focus on what they want in a job rather than what they can do for a prospective employer. They don't recognize that if they give the hiring authority good enough reasons why they ought to be hired, a hiring authority can give them plenty of good reasons why they ought to go to work there.

4. They don't know what they're really selling to an employer. Most candidates, even if they know they need to sell themselves, don't know what they should be selling. Their attitude is, "Hey, I'm a good person, you'd be lucky to have me... When can I go to work?" They forget to sell specific features, advantages, and benefits that they can provide the employer.

5. They cannot articulate or "bridge" their specific abilities for the employer. Most candidates "know" they're good, and even if they're aware of their specific features, advantages, and benefits, they can't articulate them specifically. In other words, "this is what I've done for others.... so, therefore, I will be successful for you." This takes practice and doesn't come naturally.

6. They have poor communication skills. It is hard to believe that candidates don't practice looking people in the eye and communicating clearly and concisely what they can do for a company that nobody else can. If they mumble, slouch, don't look people in the eye, and can't speak clearly, they won't get hired. It's not that hard to practice, even if it doesn't come naturally.

7. Improper or poor dress and/or body language is unprofessional in the interview. There are still people who dress casually for an interview, slouch or slump in their chairs, have poor eye contact, and do unprofessional things in an interview. Candidates should, at least in an initial interview, dress like a banker and be well groomed. They need to practice sitting up in the chair, leaning forward, looking the interviewing or hiring authority in the eye, and being relaxed yet serious.

8. They don't research the company or the position they are interviewing for. I'm always amazed at the number of very well-educated, professional candidates who don't do research on the company or the job they are interviewing for. Cursory research won't do. The people who are getting the jobs usually know more about the company and the people they are interviewing with.

9. They are unable to articulate what they would like in a new job or company. I'm not talking about salary, title, etc. I'm talking about people who don't know what their professional goals are, where they would like to be in the future, and what they're striving for personally and professionally. Too often they come across as, "Well... I just need a job."

10. They badmouth their present employer. Most candidates don't recognize that employers identify with employers. Whatever you say about your present employer or past employers, you will say about them. Your present and past employers have to appear positive.

Other sins: Discussing personal problems in the interview, being late for the interview, not apologizing for being late to the interview, not "closing" the interview properly, not asking what the next steps are going to be, and not asking about the competitive candidates.

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