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5 Surprising Mistakes That will Destroy your Job Interview

Salimah Jones APRN, FNP-C

You’ve spent countless hours searching for the perfect opportunity, submitted hundreds of applications, and waited weeks or maybe even months for that phone call letting you know that an organization is finally interested in you. After all of your efforts you want to perform well on your job interview. Most people know that you should prepare for job interviews beforehand, but many lack the knowledge of what this preparation should really consist of. After ten years of working in the healthcare industry with many years in management, I have conducted or been involved in numerous job interviews throughout my career. These experiences have allowed me to acquire first-hand knowledge of what companies look for when interviewing their candidates. In this post I will share five job interview mistakes that could ruin your chances of landing any job.


#1 Showing up without a printed copy of your resume

We all know that it is a digital world, but some things are just more practical the old-fashioned way. Having a printed copy of your resume shows your interviewer that you are well-prepared and respectful of their time. You should never assume that the interviewer already has a copy of the resume you submitted earlier. These are busy professionals who have a lot of responsibilities. Some interviewers may even use this as a test to measure how responsible you are.

#2 Revealing the wrong weaknesses

Everyone has heard the question “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” This is a tricky question that should be carefully thought through so that a well-crafted answer can be given. You never want to present a weakness that the interviewer may see as a detriment to the job or the company. One of the worst responses to this question I’ve heard is “I work at a slow pace because I want things to be done right.” Sure, the fact that the candidate is concerned with accuracy is a positive thing, but employers want their workers to be quick and accurate. This is the ultimate recipe for productivity. An example of a better weakness is “I have very high expectations of myself as an employee, but because of this, I can sometimes be critical of others. I am actively taking steps to improve in this area by trying to understand that everyone has different ways that they approach their work.”

#3 Discussing negative past employment experiences

Another common interview question is “why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your last job?” One of the worst responses I’ve heard to this question is “I left because I refused an unfair work assignment.” Although this individual may have been in the right, refusing a work assignment raises red flags and makes the candidate appear as if he or she is not a team player. You are better off saying something like, “I am looking for an opportunity where I can better utilize my skills” or “this job is a closer match for my career goals.”

#4 Displaying a lack of confidence in responses

No matter how many interviews you have been on you should practice discussing your background several times before your actual appointment. It helps to have a few “go to” scenarios from past positions that showcase your ability to problem solve, think critically, multitask, and prioritize. Having these scenarios on hand will allow you to give examples that will fit into practically any common interview question. When a candidate cannot produce answers to the questions they are asked relatively quickly and deliver the response confidently, this can make the interviewer draw the conclusion that he or she lacks the skills necessary for the job.

#5 Oversharing future ambitions

It’s great to have future career goals, but if those goals don’t include a career with the company you are interviewing with, you may want to avoid sharing them during your interview. Not only is it very expensive to hire new employees, but the training process is also quite time consuming. No manager wants to spend this degree of time and money on a person who is just using the job as a stepping stone. A common question that an interviewer may ask to obtain this information from the candidate is “tell me where you see yourself in five years or ten years?” If you get this question a good response is “I see myself in a leadership role in this industry and I’d be open to any new opportunities presented.

Don’t ruin your next job interview by being unprepared. Avoid these five common mistakes, maintain a positive attitude, and practice, practice, practice! You will increase your self-confidence and will be more likely to get the job!

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About the Author

Hi I’m Salimah Jones, Family Nurse Practitioner, bestselling author, and expert nursing career consultant. I am the Founder of The Nursing Guidean online support community dedicated to helping aspiring and current nurses achieve their professional goals. I provide practical solutions to solve problems with finances, learning difficulties, motivation, work-life-balance, and lack of a strong social support system. My mission is to provide you with the tools to conquer any challenge so that you can become your own success story. Please subscribe to this blog and don’t forget to sign up for your free membership on The Nursing Guide Website.

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3 thoughts on “5 Surprising Mistakes That will Destroy your Job Interview

  1. Hi, Salimah Jones, my name is Julie Ann Cook.I am a registered nurse. I live in Tioga, Pennsylvania, which is a very small town; but I love it. I have moved back home where I grew up and now I am providing nursing care to the people who were my neighbors. I have been a nurse for over 21 years and similar to you worked full-time while going to school. I earned my associate’s degree in 1996. Then my son was born and shortly after that was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome; so I put off going back to school until he was much older. I returned back to school in 2013 and earned my Bachelor’s degree in 2015.

    I completely agree with the Five Mistakes that could Destroy your Job Interview. Except I could add at least one more thing that could destroy the job interview. As a person going into the interview situation; you must dress like you want the job. This means no jeans, sweatpants, legging, tube tops, tank tops, sweatshirts; just to name a few items of clothing I have had the privilege of interviewing different people in. The person preparing for the interview should wear dress pants and a dress shirt or a dress for the girls. You should pay attention to your appearance and be well groomed.

    The future employer will be looking at you during the interview; if you do not show the initiative to dress well; the employer may think how are you well are you going to be able to care for the patients that would be under your care.

    1. Hey Julie thank you for your comment. You are very correct. This is a topic I went into in my book NURSING 411: THE ULTIMATE CAREER GUIDE FOR BUSY ADULTS where I really dive deep into exactly what candidates should do (and not do) to really make an impression and increase their chances to get any job. You’d think that dressing for the job should go without saying but surprisingly in my experience only about 50% of people dress appropriately for interviews. Thanks for sharing your nursing journey. My middle child has autism so I understand what it’s like to balance a career while raising a special needs child. I feel very blessed to have my nursing career which has not only provided me with an inside look at the healthcare system and knowledge of essential resources for her, but also flexibility in my work hours so that I can attend medical visits, IEP meetings etc. I couldn’t imagine a better career for me.

  2. I agree I feel very blessed to have my son, who is now 21, his future aspirations are to become one of those people who plays video games and puts them on YouTube and earns a million dollars a year. We were blessed that his babysitters were my husband’s parents and our back-ups were 2 of their closest friends.

    While I was in nursing school, and learning all the medical abbreviations, I felt very overwhelmed. There were thousands of abbreviations, and then all the medicines had at least two names. The first name would be the chemical name, and the other names would be the brand and generic names.

    However, the only thing that being a nurse helped me with when my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s; was the ability to do research and do it well. I was at a loss when the school started throwing out these different abbreviations (one’s that I have never heard of). Needless to say, the world of psychology has an entirely new list of abbreviations. However, that was not the least of my troubles I had a 9-year-old who had no friend, felt like a loser, and had no idea what he was doing wrong or what he could do to fix it.

    The day we met with the school, there were 8 people from the district there and just my husband and myself. The meeting took 2 hours for them to finally let us know that our son had been seen by a psychiatrist (we had already signed consents for the evaluation) and that she had diagnosed him with Asperger’s, ADHD, with an IQ of 134. Oh, by the way the next meeting with the school district would be in 30 days to discuss a treatment plan.

    I looked at my husband on the way home in disbelief what are we supposed to do in the next 30 days? So, I took myself to the local bookstore and started looking at books to find help. I discussed with my husband what do we say to our son or do we even tell him; we agree that we should tell him but that he needed to be completely focused so he would understand.

    I chose to tell him the same day when I picked him up from school that day. I told him about his diagnosis and that he would not need to take anymore medication for it. There was no cure for Asperger’s, but there is treatment. We would need to teach him all the social skills that he it not able to pick-up on like normal children.

    His response “You mean I don’t have a brain tumor. I thought I had cancer.” I am so glad that we chose to tell him when we did. His response made me cry and still takes my breath away.

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