3 big mistakes to avoid in an in-person interview

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The hiring process has largely become digitized: More than 40% of job seekers gain employment via online job boards like Indeed, Monster, MediaBistro, and USAJOBS, according to a recent Clutch report. With professional social networking like LinkedIn using automation to better match candidates with recruiters, many of the traditional practices of job recruiting may seem old school to modern companies and candidates.

While resumes are no longer sent via snail mail and candidates aren't scanning newspaper job listings, some elements of traditional job hunting do remain. The traditional resume, for example, is still a very important part of the hiring process, along with a supplemental LinkedIn profile. In-person interviews are also still an integral step in the hiring process for most corporate or office-based jobs.

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In-person interviews are even more important in the digital hiring age, said Brittany Hale, senior enterprise recruiter at Mondo. The rise of social media allows candidates to portray a version of themselves they want the recruiter to see, while an in-person interview eliminates the middle-man, allowing the recruiter to really see who they are considering, Hale said.

These interviews can also benefit the interviewee, she added. "You can read the faces of the other people to see what they're thinking or gain more insight into their questioning and why they might be asking certain things," Hale said.

However, in-person interviews also leave a lot of room for error. Here are the biggest mistakes candidates could make when entering an in-person interview, and how to avoid them.

1. Being unprepared

Candidates must be prepared personally and professionally for an in-person interview. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is not doing basic research on the company, its mission, and goals, said Caroline Stokes, founder and executive headhunter at FORWARD Executive Search & Executive Coaching. Not researching the organization is "a sure sign that this person really wasn't serious about the interview, they weren't serious about the company, they weren't serious about their own career strategy," Stokes added.

Tech candidates, in particular, must also be comfortable with taking tests on the spot, Stokes said. Oftentimes these tests are given on whiteboards, so the interviewers can see how the candidate thinks through a problem. Candidates should be willing and prepared to showcase their thought processes and ideas, she added.

Prospective hires also need to be prepared to discuss themselves, said Stokes. "Another mistake that people make in not being prepared is not knowing themselves, and not knowing what kinds of projects really sit well with them, and what their strengths are," Stokes added. "We could be talking about somebody who's 21 or 51, it doesn't really matter. But the person needs to be able to talk about the projects that they've worked on, as well as the teams, conflicts, and areas that they've had to resolve, how they've shown resourcefulness, how they've shown all of those different aspects."

2. Dishonesty

Lying before or during an interview is one of the easiest ways to get thrown into the rejection pile. While this may seem obvious, Hale said it is an automatic red flag for recruiters.

Whether the candidate exaggerates a previous job position on their resume, omits a job on LinkedIn, or just blatantly lies to the recruiter in-person, dishonesty is a value most companies want to avoid. Hale said when a candidate's resume doesn't match up with their work history profile on LinkedIn, she immediately flags that as suspicious.

3. Lack of enthusiasm

An in-person interview is a chance for the candidate to showcase their personality, but it's up to the recruiter to decide if that personality matches the company's culture. Enthusiasm is one of the top qualities hiring managers are looking for, said Hale.

"They're judging your enthusiasm in the interview about them, about the company, about the conversation, and the enthusiasm that you would bring to the role," Hale added. "Sometimes you'll get that feedback and first impressions are really everything, so I think one of the worst things a candidate can do is just be a little too relaxed, not convey how excited and interested they are in person."

If you are a candidate who isn't confident in your technical skills, turn on the soft skills, Hale said. Oftentimes the person who gets the job isn't the most qualified, but has the best personality, she added. Personality and being a person others want to work with every day is really what makes candidates stand out from those who just look good on paper.

When hiring managers and recruiters enter interviews, they want you to be the right candidate just as much as you do, said Stokes. Candidates should enter the room excited to be there and excited about the prospect of joining the team.

"You want to hear that spark, that energy, because you want to work with like-minded people that share that same energy," Stokes added.

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