The Biggest Interviewing Mistake

bad interview

Of the many reasons an interview can tank, one scenario is most common.

The conversation goes something like this:

Interviewer: “We’re looking for someone who can [fill in the blank].”
Job Candidate: “Oh that’s me!”
Interviewer: “Great; can you tell me about your past experience with it?”
Job Candidate: “Absolutely! I do it all the time actually. It’s something I consider a core strength. It was a huge part of my previous role so I would have no problem doing it here.”

See the problem? The interviewer provided an opening for the job seeker to share specific experiences that demonstrate how they used their skills to get results. But the candidate blew it by offering only vague generalizations.

It happens all the time.

This is an easy way to bore your interviewer to tears and, ultimately, make him or her dismiss you as someone who is potentially all talk, or who simply hasn’t made a strong enough case to land the job.

Interviewers don’t want to hear a list of your skills or things you can do. They don’t want you to tell them you “always” do this or “never” do that. They don’t want to hear how good you are at this or that.

They want stories. They want details and they want to connect to you as a person. Like all human beings, they want a little entertainment.

Whenever an interviewer wants to know about your past experience or skills, wrap it up in a story.

Turn Your Skills Into Stories

Tell your interviewer about a problem your company faced.  Tell them about the idea you had to fix it and how you convinced your boss to give it a go. Tell them about all the late nights and hard work you put in to make your idea really work. Then, tell them about the amazing impact your successful implementation of that idea had on the company.

More than just being entertaining, your stories offer proof that you can do what you’re claiming. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So, before you go on your next interview, get your story down.

Here’s the process:

  • Review the key competencies the interviewer will want you to have to do the job.
  • Draft stories that that demonstrate these skills. Always start with the problem, share the action you took to fix it, and end on a high note with the results. Come up with several stories that show you in different situations and showcase different skills.
  • Practice the stories until they feel natural and convincing.
  • Look for every opportunity to tell your stories in the interview.

About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach, corporate trainer and public speaker who believes work can be a nourishing part of the life experience. Her website, Eat Your Career, is devoted to this mission. Chrissy is currently a contributing career expert for U.S. News & World Report and the author of the book, The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!), available on Amazon.