Have an Interview? 5 Pitfalls to Avoid

Matt Shelly
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The current job market is so competitive that receiving an interview request may make you feel like you've won the lottery. If it's been awhile since you last interviewed for a job, you could probably use a few good interview tips. Here are five common interview missteps, with interview tips for avoiding them during your meeting with a hiring manager.


  1. Talking about job experience, not skills. Interviewers typically ask about previous work experience. However, they really want to know about your skills and how you're able to put them to good use at the company. Avoid generalizing about your experience. Extract specific examples of things you have learned and tie them into the job requirements.
  2. Not doing your homework. Of all the interview tips you come across, this is probably the most important. Many prospective employees go into a job interview not knowing anything about the company or the position. Not only are mistakes bound to happen, but having no knowledge of the company can come across as a lack of interest in the work. If the interviewer gets the sense that you're only there for the paycheck, you may be passed up for someone who displays more ambition. Take time to learn about the company, and use every available opportunity to show off your knowledge as an accounting professional.
  3. Letting the interviewer ask all the questions. While the interviewer is determining whether you are right for the job, you should be figuring out whether the company is right for you. In addition to discussing the job and salary requirements, ask about advancement opportunities, the company culture, and other considerations that will impact your work life. The answers can help you determine if the job is a good match, and you'll likely impress the interviewer with your thoroughness.
  4. Not dressing for the job. Many interview tips recommend wearing a suit, but not all businesses have such a formal dress code. Prior to your interview, visit the company to see what people are wearing, and then dress up or down accordingly. Just remember that if you're going to err, err toward dressing up, rather than dressing down.
  5. Fumbling the salary question. Salary negotiations can be tricky, and many interview tips recommend pitching high and walking back until you get the salary you want. Unfortunately, the pool of applicants is often so large that this tactic can easily backfire. To avoid shooting yourself in the foot during the job interview by making unreasonable salary demands, use sites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to research what the average wage is for the position. Then be forthright, but tactful, with the interviewer. If you were making more in your previous position, for example, say you understand that, as a new employee, you wouldn't be making the same as in your previous job, but that the amount you researched seems to be a fair rate of pay. If the salary is reasonable, the company will likely work with you.


In addition to the above interview tips, it's a good idea to learn more about the interviewer. You can use the information you find to connect with the person, which, along with the tips above, may help you get the job and save you from starting the job hunt all over again.


(Photo courtesy of Michal Marcol / freedigitalphotos.net)


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