Don't Commit One of the Worst Interview Sins

One of the worst "sins" an interviewee can commit is to speak in generalities rather than specifics. It is not enough to say, "I'm a very goal-oriented person." You have to back it up with specifics. For example: "I'm a very goal-oriented person. In fact, I regularly update a list of personal and business goals with specific time frames. Since I started keeping this goal list three years ago, I've successfully reached or surpassed over 90 percent of these goals. I'm confident that the other 10 percent are also within reach in the coming year."

Don't force me to continually prompt you for full answers. I will soon grow weary of the process and give up.

If you are prone to using generalities, a sharp interviewer will usually follow with the behavioral question "Can you give me a specific example?" So beware! In fact, a favorite dual interview question of mine is: "Do you consider yourself to be goal oriented?" (which to date has been answered 100 percent of the time with "Yes"), followed by: "Can you give me a specific example?" It's amazing how many people could not answer the second question or (worse yet) attempted to lie their way past it. The best answers came from those who did not even need the prompting of my second question, but gave specifics in response to my initial question. That is what a good interviewer will be seeking.

An important aspect of being specific is to use the quantitative approach. Don't just say, "I increased productivity." Instead use, "I increased staff meeting productivity 25 percent in one year within our department by implementing a videoconferencing system for participants at our other location on campus, thereby reducing travel time. And as a by-product of this focus on the needs of our employees, meeting attendance is up over 10 percent. In fact, the videoconferencing system was showcased in the August newsletter. Let me show you a copy."