Even though mid-career professionals have experience interviewing, they can still make critical mistakes, often because they don't understand what's expected when they interview for senior level positions. Recruiters and hiring managers are not only trying to assess a candidate's skills and goals, especially those related to the job in question. Some professionals go into an interview feeling smug about their experiences and are uninterested in anything other than talking about themselves. That approach won't get you very far, no matter how seasoned and successful you've been in the past.
The following are the five most common mistakes I see mid-level professionals make during job interviews. Here is what you should be doing in preparation for, and during high-level interviews.
- Do background research.You should always go into an interview for a senior level job knowing specifics about the company; such as details about recent projects, the company’s finances, its marketing strategies, and any challenges it’s facing. Know the backgrounds of those of whom you're interviewing with as well as the company's reputation in the industry and within its sector. With this information, you will be able to ask informed questions and give thoughtful answers.
- Talk about accomplishments.An interview is not the time to rattle off a list of responsibilities. While that's important- and should be detailed on your resume- you should be talking about what you have accomplished with those responsibilities in mind. What particular things have you gotten done during your tenure in your current position? How has that impacted the company- especially in terms of the bottom line? You don't need to be overly detailed, but don’t be too vague either.
- Be confident, but not overconfident.You may feel that your experience should speak for itself, but it doesn't- you still have to talk about it and advocate for yourself, no matter your level of experience. All of the steps that someone more junior has to take, like updating their resume, researching the company, and preparing for the interview, you have to do too. Having confidence is essential and necessary to move up in an organization, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so walk it cautiously.
- Ask Questions.Although you are the one being interviewed, you should be doing some interviewing of your own. Ask smart, insightful questions about the company, its challenge, and its goals. Remember that you are trying to sell yourself, and you can't do that if you don't know what the company is looking to buy. Your questions should help you understand the company's immediate and ongoing needs. That will allow you to cast your experience expertise and goals in a way that helps them see that you are the right fit for their needs.
- Send a recap note after the interview.Most candidates believe sending a simple "Thank You" note or email after an interview is the right thing to do, but for a higher-level position that's a major faux pas, and one that I see often. At this level in your professional career, sending a simple thank you note isn't enough. Not only do you want to thank those with whom you interviewed, your note should also include a recap that says. "Here's what I learned about your needs during our interview, and here's how I can help you meet those needs.