The biggest mistake I ever did in an interview


Photo credits to Luxebag.com.

Last year, prior joining my current company, I got contacted by my dream company. What I meant with dream company was that it’s my employer of choice; that when I finished college in my university I see myself working there for the rest of my life. Fate has different plans and brought me to different industries and employers, but last year was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for a very long time.

My dream company wants me. They. Want. Me.

They were very discreet about my application because I honestly told them that I didn’t want my employer (former) to know that I’m exploring opportunities outside early on. They agreed. We went on with the processes. I got endorsed to the next steps. I was feeling it. I was close. It was a home run, so I thought.

“Correspondence… we regret to inform you, Kim, that we won’t be moving your application to the final step which is the interview with our boss based in UK. Thank you for your time!”

What happened? We were all positive and head on with the interviews, so what went wrong? How could this happen? I was so close. I even asked the manager about the feedback and he said,

“Hi Kim,

Thank you for going through the interview process. We appreciate the fact that you were consistently early for your interview schedules and demonstrated a clear grasp of the subject matter. We also appreciate your being very transparent with your accomplishments, challenges and how you overcame them to get results. We also believe that you’ve demonstrated a strong passion for Employer Branding across industries – this was very evident in our conversations about your work. Finally, we have observed that you are a very driven individual, and you have a strong desire to achieve / excel in any role you take on.

We did however find that there were certain topics where you could have been more concise, and answered more directly – while we appreciate the nuances of your processes, we would have wanted more insight into the solutions you had proposed / the results you generated.

It was a pleasure to meet you, and we hope to work with you again in the future.

Thanks!”

I didn’t respond to the manager after but I sent my regards. It was my first interview for a very long time. I got so used to being the one conducting the interviews that I forgot how it feels like to be questioned. Now the lingering question is, what went wrong?

As a Recruiter, I’ve dissected every step of the application process and I was able to find out the big mistakes I did during the course of the interviews and assessments. Here are my takeaways:

I was not giving any solution.

While I was able to present myself confidently to the manager and the rest of the team, I was not able to articulate the solutions that I have formulated and implemented. It should be 30-70 take – 30% you should appear strong and adept all the time, 70% you should discuss what you did to address a problem/situation in your team.

The manager’s question to me was to ‘Tell me about a time when you had to face a difficult situation.’ I kept mentioning things about undefined process, difficult manager to work with, unbelievable hiring timeline vs. the number of hiring requirements being raised. Sure I was able to mention my above the average organisational skills and impeccable intuition to prioritize things, but I was not able to present to them anything deeper than that.

As a candidate, it is very important to always mention the steps you did in order to attain certain result. The more specific, the better. My answers were vague and lacked clarity. It has a structure but it lacked thought and meat; hence I was speaking gibberish. I sounded like a whiner more than an advocate of change and improvement.

If I was the interviewer, that’s already a flag.

Over excitement.

I could not contain my emotions. Whenever I’d go to their office, honestly, my heart is jumping for joy. This over excitement spilled over to my interviews. Later I realised I was talking and sharing too much information. It benefited the interviewer but it wasn’t the case for my application with them. I was sharing information which should not be shared to my potential employer – strategic plans for next year, future campaigns, failed marketing strategies… anything they’d ask from me, I’d give them.

The thing about this is that I should have filtered the things I should be sharing to them. It’s okay to be transparent, indeed, but it really pays to carefully curate words in your mind before sharing; thus, limited information would be shared but those would’ve been the more important, more relevant ones than sharing the whole of everything.

Less is more, keep in mind!

Over confidence.

I was cool and I easily have established rapport with the Manager and his team, I could tell that with the way we were exchanging jokes as if they’ve known me for a long time already. Perhaps I saw that as a good thing, but maybe not to them. Did you know that most of the companies’ hiring process these days would incorporate unique methods for candidate selection, such as group interviews, video interview/selection, and behavioral assessments will provide a diverse, robust, and comprehensive idea of the character and passion of the individual? Meaning, there would be companies where their assessment starts right when the candidate entered the building and interacted with the Receptionist and Security Personnel. Who knows, I might have been watched all the time, right when I first came to their floor/building?

Pro tip: Always, and never forget, to treat everyone right. I didn’t miss this mark but it might have been better if I toned down the interaction level I’ve had with them and it might’ve come across to them as being too over confident. It would always pay off to temp check the atmosphere building showing your giddy-easy-going-side.

Overall, here’s my assessment and scoring per competency:

  • Communication: 3.5/5
  • Thought process: 2/5
  • Behaviour: 4/5
  • Technical knowledge: 4/5
  • Organisational skill: 3/5
  • Results-driven: 2/5
  • Culture fit: 2/5
  • Attention to details: 2/5
  • Overall score: 2.8125/5 – failed

What do you think was your biggest mistake ever in an interview? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts and experience! X

3 thoughts on “The biggest mistake I ever did in an interview

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