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5 Common Interview Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Job Search

5 Common Interview Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Job Search

You see a job posting and automatically you know it would be the perfect job for you. Your qualifications match, it would present you with career growth opportunities, and you know you’d bring great value to the company. In short, it’s your dream job.

You get the call for your interview, whether it’s in person or through online video, and you feel ready. Before you head out the door or fire up your webcam, however, know there are plenty of little pitfalls which can come between you and your dream job. With 7.9 percent unemployment, even a tiny mistake can be the opening another qualified candidate needs to leapfrog over you and get the job.

So what are the common mistakes you need to avoid to ace your interview? Here are five questions your interviewer should never ask themselves at any point during your meeting:

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What Are You Wearing?

It might be spring, but that doesn’t mean you should show up for your interview with a pastel-hued wardrobe. When the calendar flips to summer, the heat will be no excuse for donning a pair of shorts on such a formal occasion. You know the saying, “the clothes make the man”? Well in the interview, wearing the wrong thing can mean immediate disqualification before you even open your mouth.

Studies have revealed that first impressions are formed a mere 7 to 17 seconds after meeting. In 7 seconds, all your interviewer will have to go by will be your interview attire. This is why it’s imperative to dress conservatively and professionally—this is no time for a fashion show! Even if the office environment is more a T-shirt than suit jacket kind of place, the interview is no time to be taking fashion risks.

Why Are You Late?

Just like wearing a pair of flip-flops and board shorts, showing up late for your interview can be grounds for immediate dismissal. Your interviewer is taking time out of his or her busy schedule to squeeze you in. Be cognizant of this fact, and leave your house or office with plenty of time to spare.

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You might not think you need the extra time, but there are plenty of obstacles life can throw at you. You could get lost going to an unfamiliar neighborhood, or get stuck in a traffic pile up. Remember, it’s better to be early than late when it comes to your interview.

If you’re far away and think it might be hard to get to your interview on time, perhaps you should suggest a video interview. This way you can fire up your webcam from the comfort of your own home. Just remember, there’s no excuse on earth for being late to your video interview. Make sure to check out your equipment in advance so you don’t run into any technical difficulties.

You Really Don’t Know Anything About the Company?

One of the most common interview mistakes, and one of the most easily remedied, is showing up for the meeting without knowing anything about the company. “So what does this company do?” is never an acceptable question to ask your interviewer.

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Before showing up for your meeting, take some time to research the company. Start with their corporate website and social media properties, then expand your reach to any news about the organization. Maybe you can even connect on social media with current or former employees to find out more about the company culture. Whatever you do, don’t go into the interview without doing your homework.

Is That Your Phone Ringing?

There is nothing so important it cannot wait until you get out of an interview, so be sure to turn off all sounds on your phone before going in for your meeting. This means turning your phone off vibrate too. While a loud ring is distracting, the constant sound of your phone vibrating in your bag can be just as bad. You know you’re a popular person—there’s no need for your interviewer to know it as well.

What Did You Just Say About Your Former Employer?!

Perhaps your last job was terrible. Your boss resembled Michael Scott from NBC’s comedy The Office, and not in a good way. Your coworkers were meaner than Johnny Lawrence from the Karate Kid, and the office cafeteria food was just terrible.

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We’ve all been there, and we can all relate, but these stories of workplace woe belong at Happy Hour with your friends, not in an interview for a new position. You might think  that badmouthing your last office is a good tactic to explain why you were fired or why you want to make the switch to a new position. It is, however, a terrible idea.

Interviewers will think if you’re willing to badmouth a former employer, you’ll be willing to throw a new company under the bus as well. Go for discretion instead of full confession, and try to spin your former experiences in a positive way and make it about what you learned, not how much you hated your former job.

Interviews can be stressful, which can lead to little mistakes that add up to big trouble for your prospects. Focus on avoiding some of the most common errors, and you’ll be well on your way to nabbing the job of your dreams!

What are some common interview mistakes to avoid? Share in the comments!

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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