Three mistakes to avoid at job interviews

Whether your interview is face-to-face or via video call, here are three mistakes many of us naively fall into and must avoid.

Don’t sell

Never look like you’re selling. Try to look like you are the solution to a problem.

If you visited a plumber’s website in the early days of the internet, it would have told you how good they were. It would probably also have told you that they’re a family business, they’ve being going for over fifty years and show you several quotes from loyal customers saying how amazing they were.

But none of us go to a plumber’s website to find out how successful they are. We go there because water’s dripping through the ceiling or we need a new boiler.

So if you visit a plumber’s website today, it’s all solution based. Their website will probably say, ‘Got a leak? Click here’ or ‘Need a new boiler? Click here’. They are not selling. They’re solving a problem.

When you’re interviewing try to be the solution to their problem.

Don’t make it about you

So think about what value you could add.

In the 1960’s a company selling lawn seed ran this advertising campaign: WE SELL THE BEST LAWN SEED IN THE WORLD.

Their sales didn’t go up when the commercial was running. Something was wrong. They soon realised that the audience didn’t want the best lawn seed. What the audience wanted was the best lawn. So they changed their strap line to: FOR THE BEST LAWNS IN THE WORLD. And their sales shot up.

Don’t be unmemorable!

Most interview answers start something like this: ‘Hello, my name is Robin. I’d like to tell you how much I know and how brilliant I am for ten minutes, then perhaps we’ll have time for some questions.’

That’s what everyone else does. Let’s try to be different and start with an interesting, quirky phrase to ‘hook’ them in.

I remember hearing a politician once speaking about his political ambitions. He opened with, ‘I thought my chances of being elected Prime Minster were about as likely as my being reincarnated as an olive.’ (No prizes for guessing who that was! Yes, the answer is Boris Johnson!)

It’s the ridiculousness of that image of an olive that makes it work so well. That’s the memorable ‘hook’. Stories will always be remembered much more easily than simply going on about how brilliant you are. Nobody likes a know-it-all!

All the best!


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“Insightful and a welcome dose of good fun!  Our ability to connect has improved as a result of the simple techniques that Robin shared with us during the session. Thanks Robin!”

Simon Amor

Director, Heineken UK