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Don’t Make Assumptions that Could Cost You the Job!

interview tips Nov 28, 2021

There are several common job interview assumptions that could hurt your chances of landing your dream job! You know what happens when you assume, right? I want to create awareness of these items to help you have greater success in your interview.

Assumption #1—Our Interviewer is Paying Attention

We have to stop assuming we are getting 100% of your interviewer’s attention. You never truly get 100% attention from anyone, ever. So, how do you deal with this fact that the interviewer may not be hanging on every single word you say? I recommend following two key strategies:

  1. Simplify—The situation you describe in a behavioral answer should be simple and easy to understand. Cover the key information and data points without extraneous details or overcomplicated stories.
  2. Keep it Interactive—For open-ended interview questions, involve the interviewer. Ask them clarifying questions. Check in with them. Ask them what they would like to talk about. Don’t just ramble on about yourself. That’s an easy way to lose their attention.

Assumption #2—The Whole Interview Matters

This is another false assumption. It’s important to make a positive first impression. If they like you in the beginning, chances are they are still going to like you later on. Many hiring decisions are made within minutes. Be on time and bring positive energy right off the bat. If not, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle the rest of the interview. Start with a smile and maintain good body language throughout. When the interviewer likes you right away, you will have more flexibility. You’ll be able to retain that likability, even when you have any less-than-perfect moments later in the conversation.

Assumption #3—Words Matter

The reality is that our words carry less meaning than other factors, such as body language, pitch, tone and pace. For better body language, keep your shoulders back and your chin up. Maintain an even pitch and tone throughout your speech, but don’t be monotone. Add inflections to put emphasis on key points and questions. Another helpful recommendation is to mirror the interviewer’s pace, but try to slow them down. Pauses and moments of silence are natural. Give your interviewer the space to answer, comment and interject so that the interview remains interactive.

Assumption #4—You Need All the Skills

As a Recruiter, I was always more likely to hire a person that doesn’t have all the skills. Creating learning and growth opportunities can be motivating for the right person. It’s always important to have certain key skills for the job, but having all the skills is just not necessary. In many cases, displaying your passion and willingness to learn are more important in an interview than simply sharing your job qualifications. 

Assumption #5—I Can Wing It

There are definitely people who fall into this category. However, it’s a very small percentage. I say why take the risk, especially if you are going for a great job? Practice and prepare like crazy. Don’t be afraid to push the interview back if you are unprepared. Don’t go out drinking the night before. Never assume you can “wing” an interview. The interviewer can tell and it will not create a positive impression.

Assumption #6—Positivity Isn’t Always Necessary

This assumption is very false. You always need to be positive in an interview. It’s okay if you’ve made mistakes in your career. We all have. Just remember to always be speaking with positive words and looking for the silver lining in any example you are sharing. If you tell a story about a past failure, show what you learned from the experience and outline how you applied those learnings to future successes. If your interviewer starts to bring you down a negative path, look for opportunities to bring them up with positive responses.

Watch my full video on this topic here:

Whether you are interviewing in person or virtually, you want to apply these tips and avoid these assumptions that lead to major mistakes. For more coaching tips and resources, follow my YouTube channel or sign up on Practice Interviews to get started with personal coaching services.


Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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