You’ve finally found your dream company and they have an opening that matches your skill set. You feel like you’re the perfect candidate for the job. However, if you don’t take the time to properly prepare, you could miss out on the opportunity, even if you are the most qualified candidate.
In this article, I will discuss the most common mistakes people make when applying for a job.
Mistake #1: Applying for jobs out of desperation
Perhaps you’re living a scenario that goes something like this: you’ve graduated college with over $30,000 in student loan debt. You received a degree that provides little to opportunity to get paid. You have hefty loan repayments you need to make every month and you can barely afford to pay your living expenses.
It’s situations like these that put your brain in “survival mode.” The natural response is usually to apply for anything and everything you see that you seem remotely qualified for.
Ironically, when you are in survival mode you make yourself less likely to get a job. Your desperation will come across in your interview. You will jump around from application to application. You’ll burn yourself out. You may even lie or try to fake your way into a job that you are really not suited for and will just cause you stress every day if you got the job anyway.
If you are panicking, the first step is you need to get calm and collected. If you need help paying the bills seek help from family, friends, a local church, unemployment insurance–whatever you can find just give yourself a bit of breathing room.
Once you are actually able to relax and focus you can put in the necessary effort to avoid the other common mistakes.
Mistake #2: Not researching the company
In this rapidly evolving economy, many companies are beginning to place more value on cultural fit than on a specific skill set. Unless you have a skill set that is rare and will never become out of date, you will need more than just a resume.
Showing the recruiter that you understand the company culture and share the same values will go a long way towards making yourself a top contender for the position.
Before you submit your cover letter or head into the interview be sure that you are conversant with the company’s vision, their origin story, and their primary product and the benefits it offers to their customers.
It’s an old proven persuasion tactic that if you want to make yourself seem more interesting than you should mostly talk about the other person. The more you can get your recruiter talking about him or herself and the company, the more likely you are to make a favorable impression.
That being said, technically you are the one being interviewed, so you’ll need to come prepared with some good answers to tough questions.
Mistake #3: Not having prepared answers
There are a few people who are really good at improvising. For the rest of us, we had better have some answers prepared ahead of time if we don’t want to be hemming and hawing at every question.
Here are a few of the most common questions you might be asked that will be difficult to come up with answer on the spot:
Tell me a little about yourself. This open-ended question, or some variation of it, is often the first question in an interview. The key is to tell a compelling story instead of just rambling on about miscellaneous experiences. If you have a story prepared ahead of time, you can position yourself as a much more attractive candidate than just someone who went to college, worked as a cashier to pay the rent, and is now here in hopes of getting a better paying job.
What’s your biggest weakness? This is a curveball question interviewers will sometimes throw in. They know that nobody is perfect or great at everything so they want to see if the interviewee is able to accurately assess him or herself.
Why do you want this job? Your answer to this question should not be “because I want the paycheck” or some disguised version of that. The employer that you want the paycheck. They want to know specifically why you chose their particular company. Find something that interests you about the industry. If you are having difficulty coming up with any legitimate reasons, it may be a sign that you’re applying for the wrong company or position.
Mistake #4: Not presenting yourself in a confident manner
Just because you feel nervous on the inside doesn’t mean you need to look nervous on the outside! Confidence is critical to landing a job. Nobody wants to hand over money to someone who seems uncertain that they can perform the duties required of them.
The way you dress matters–at least for the interview. Invest in some good professional attire. “Dress for Success” is more than just a trite saying. It has been proven that the outward appearance will cause internal changes.
Those are really the main mistakes to avoid. When thinking of negatives to avoid it’s best to keep it simple. You don’t want to imagine everything that could possibly go wrong (that would break your confidence!). Just be sure to do your “homework” ahead of time by researching the company, writing out some prepared answers, and dressing in nice professional attire. Those few things alone will give you a significant advantage.
Now get out there and conquer that interview!