Two big interview mistakes to avoid

You are your best superpower. Do you know what those powers are? It needs some self-reflection and breaking down, so you can communicate exactly what value you can add to your potential new boss. That’s where lots of people fall short.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my career, and I’m sharing the two biggest mistakes people make at interview, as well as some advice that will make a difference to your interview technique.


The biggest mistakes people make during interviews

1. Talking too generically about your skills

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many people get stuck with the specifics. All candidates at the interview stage can do the job, so how will you stand out from everyone else who matches up to what they’re looking for? Repeating skills off the job profile is one thing but how do you demonstrate them in your work?
Let me give you an example here, “I’m a great team player” or “I’ve got great interpersonal skills”. Sometimes candidates will give an example (sometimes not!). Most candidates think that’s enough but every other candidate that sits across the table will say the same thing. As an interviewer I’m thinking “and?” or “so, what are they?”.

You need to go a step further and set out how you do it. Don’t leave the interviewer wondering what you mean. It’s a mistake to assume that everyone who is a good team player behaves in the same way. If that was the case, there would never be any conflict in teams! A good interviewer will probe further, but you can’t guarantee their interviewing skills, so don’t leave to chance!

Tips to improve

Where the job requires skills like teamwork, communication, decision making or organisation, figure out what you offer in each of those categories. What are the qualities that make you great in these areas?

Here are some examples to help you:

Teamwork - Taking responsibility for your actions and delivering on time, being flexible, offering support to others, showing commitment to achieving goals, dependable, active listening and considering other people’s points of view, being a problem solver and having a positive attitude.

Decision making - Being able to see the bigger picture, remain objective, focus on priorities, ability to establish rationale, data analysis, critical and logical thinking, use professional judgement and experience.
This type of information gives the interviewer greater insight into who you are and what type of person they might be employing.
For each of the skills required, you should map at least four ways you behave that show how you embody those skills every day.

2. Not applying your skills to the job

Interviewing candidates can be tough; it takes concentration and focus. You want to give the same experience to the last candidate of the day as the first candidate. The best thing you can do is to make that job easier! Join some of the dots for the interviewer.
The best candidates will be clear on how their skills and experience can be applied not only to the job, but within the company. You need to get across how you can solve the employer’s problem and help them start to see you being effective in the job.

Connecting the dots

Understand the job well, research what the company stands for and what it’s looking to achieve. Doing this preparation will give you confidence because you understand the landscape and context of the job.

Use a technique like STAR and quantify your outcome or result to demonstrate what you have achieved. Be specific about your actions and what you took responsibility for. Having skills is one thing, applying them to get an outcome is another; show you can!

The final part is the one most candidates leave out; link your skills and experience to the job and company, by talking about how they could be applied. Don’t leave the interviewer wondering how what you can do would be useful to them, highlight it! You don’t need to do this for every question but certainly for the questions that are about the core requirements of the job role.
As an example, if the interview question is about motivating a team, talk about your skills (see advice above!) and give an example of when you have motivated a team to deliver great results. Then you could add “within this role, I know I would be responsible for a team of 10. My approach to getting them on board would be XYZ. To deliver on the plans the company has for next year of [target/goal/project], I would want XYZ to be in place within the first three months.”
This answer makes a big difference. It demonstrates you’re prepared, you’re invested in the role and you have thought about you would be effective in the role and add value within the company.

Two-step advice summary

  1. Talk in greater depth about your skills with an example.
  2. Explain how you could apply your skills and experience within the job and company.

Best of luck!

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend
Stafford, Staffordshire, ST16
Written by Sian Carter
Stafford, Staffordshire, ST16

Written by Sian Carter, Career and Confidence Coach for mid-career professionals who want to move on or move up in their career. Sian is a qualified coach with extensive experience in HR, learning and development and recruitment. She blends coaching with practical support to get results. Contact: or

Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Career coaching

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals

Related Articles

More articles

Real Stories

More stories