10 Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

By Published On: April 15, 2020

When it comes to interviewing within the supply chain discipline, in person or over the phone or video the competition can be fierce, and the last thing you want to do is to be ruled out of a job you are qualified for because of simple interview mistakes. While I’ve covered supply chain interviewing tips in the past, here’s a list of the most common supply chain interview mistakes I’ve seen candidates make that can negatively influence the hiring manager’s decision.

Badmouthing Former Employers

Criticizing a former employer, manager, or peers will only make you look bad. You will come off as a complainer and no one wants to hire a complainer. If you are asked a question about how you dealt with a horrible boss in the past, it’s best to quickly describe the situation from a high level and immediately address what actions you took to try to rectify the problem. It’s a small world too, so you don’t want something you said about a past employer getting back to them. As my mother (and many other mothers) like to say: “If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all!”.

Asking What Can You Do for Me?

While it’s important to understand that you are there to interview the company just like they’re doing with you, your primary objective is to convince the interviewer(s) that you’re the best candidate for the position. If you don’t convey the value you can bring to the company and instead focus on learning what the employer can do for you, your odds of advancing in the interview process are slim to nil. Refrain from asking questions about salary, vacation, benefits, and perks in the early stages of the interview. Even if the interviewer brings up salary, give generalized ranges instead of hard numbers, so you’ll be in a better position to negotiate should you advance to the offer stage.

Being Too Confident or Worse: Cocky

It’s important to demonstrate that you possess the supply chain knowledge and experience required for the position, but be very careful not to come across as a know-it-all or braggadocious. I have seen numerous candidates get the axe because of bragging, cockiness or wearing a chip on their shoulder. Keep it professional at all times and err on the side of humbleness versus being over-confident. Even if you know someone high up in the company you’re interviewing with, never assume that you’re going to cruise your way to the offer stage either. You have to “earn it”. Every. Time.

Failing to Quantify Accomplishments

Discussing your past roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments isn’t enough these days. You must be prepared to quantify the results of your accomplishments as well, using dollar signs ($), percentages (%) and related tactics for measuring the value delivered to your employers. If you do this, and your answer is highly relevant to the question being asked and significant in terms of size, scope and complexity, you’ll likely make a very strong impression on the interviewer that could push you over the top.

Using We vs I

When asked about your previous experience, it’s important to discuss what YOU personally did in a particular role versus generalizing based on what your TEAM did. An easy trick for remembering this is to simply use “I” versus “we” when answering interview questions. Now, if the position you’re interviewing for is a management position, it’s perfectly normal to talk about how your team contributed towards results. Just make sure you convey what you did to help drive the results for the team.

Showing up with No Prepared Questions and Not Taking Notes

It completely boggles my mind that candidates show up for job interviews without having any questions prepared or don’t have a pen and notepad out for taking notes. By doing this you will come across as if you’re not prepared or don’t care to prepare, and that you’re A-OK with completely winging it. Even if you have a photographic memory and never forget anything, perception is reality, so bring in a written list of questions and take a few notes for every interview that you go on.

Keeping Your Phone On

Never answer a call or text during an interview as it makes you look disinterested and extremely unprofessional. It’s best to switch your cell phone to silent mode, or completely turn it off until you end your interviews.

Overly Aggressive Follow Ups

The hiring process, in many cases, usually takes more time than expected, especially if there are multiple interviews, multiple candidates & multiple decision makers involved. Try not to get impatient and refrain from making too many follow-up calls or emails e.g. calling every single day. You definitely want to ask the interview team when a decision should be made, then put this date in your calendar to remind you when to follow up. If you don’t hear back within a few days try leaving another follow-up message. Bottom line, don’t come across as a stalker and keep the follow-up calls to a minimum.

Neglecting Your New Network

One of the simplest interview mistakes I’ve seen professionals make is neglecting connections. Even if you’re not selected for an offer after interviewing with a company, but had a positive experience otherwise, it’s always worthwhile to stay in touch with the new connections that you made. If you stay on their radar screen they’ll likely keep you in mind for future opportunities that align with your background.  

Assuming You Got the Job

Even if you had the best interviews of your life and receive signals from the interview team that you’re the top candidate, it’s never safe to assume you’ve landed the position. The job could get placed on hold, canceled, or the employer could suddenly change their mind at the 11th hour. It’s best to keep your options open instead of shutting yourself off to other opportunities.