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The Top Job Interview Mistake, and How Not to Make It.

Aug 15, 2022 | Blog, Interviewing

Ask A Recruiter

The Top Job Interview Mistake, and How Not to Make It.

They want to talk with you to figure out if you can help them solve it.

Hi. I’m Peter Gray, executive recruiter. Let’s talk about job interviews.

When you interview and don’t get the job, it feels terrible. I get that.

And to make it worse, they never tell you why.

Well, I’m a recruiter. They don’t tell YOU why, but they tell ME why all the time.

You want to know what they tell me, more than anything else?

“I didn’t like the person because … because they talked too much.”

I mean, that sounds so silly, right? And unreasonable.

But here’s what I’ve learned from spending so much time with the people who do the hiring:

When you interview for a job, YOU are NOT the subject of the meeting.

The meeting is about something else!

So don’t put all your effort into impressing them with how qualified, and talented, and interesting you are.

I mean, YES! You ARE! But that won’t make a good interview.

You’ll talk too much. You’ll suck all the oxygen out of the room.

And you might never even find out…why did they want to talk with you in the first place?

THAT’S the subject of the meeting. Not you. Them! The organization.

It has a problem, or an unmet need. They want to talk with you to figure out if you can help them solve it.

So make the interview about THAT. Use it to learn more about the organization. What’s going on? What does it need?

Then, you can offer up some ideas. You can come back and say, “Okay. Let’s figure this out together.” How can you help them solve this problem?

THAT will be a good interview.

And here’s how you’ll know when it’s working: the interview won’t feel like a performance, and it won’t feel like an interrogation.

It will feel like this incredibly energetic problem-solving session between people who don’t work together yet.

But who clearly should.

Originally published on April 24, 2021.

About The Author

Peter Gray is a recovering Wall Street recruiter, now recruiting social impact leaders & fighting bias in hiring. Midwest transplant. Introvert. he/him

Peter began his career in executive search at Korn Ferry after working as a management consultant at CSC Index, the firm that pioneered business process reengineering. Peter earned an AB in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University, and an MBA from Columbia Business School. After over 20 years as an executive recruiter, this year Peter started his own recruiting firm! Peter Gray Executive Search.