I’ve conducted well over 1000 interviews at multiple companies including Amazon and Facebook. One thing I’ve repeatedly said is that being skilled enough to be successful at a job does not necessarily mean being skilled enough to be hired for a job. Passing an interview is a skill itself. Some people are certainly better at interviewing than doing their job. Others would be outstanding at a job if they could only figure out how to pass the interview.

Passing an interview is sometimes about doing the right thing. Knowing the important skill, having the right experience. Other times, getting past the interview is about not failing the interview. If you have the skills necessary for the job, there is still a list of ways to fail the interview process. I thought I’d write that list down.

In no particular order, here is Interview Mistake #1.


Running Your Mouth

… an interview going a bit long …
Me: “I understand your job responsibilities, I don’t need to know more about them. I would just like to know-”
Candidate: “Yeah, but after 6 months my responsibilities changed! After that point I was… <words, words>”
Me: “I appreciate all the information, but we do have limited time. I wanted to know-”
Candidate: “Yes, I understand, I’ll finish quickly. So after my manager stepped down..”

I’ve had similar conversations dozens of times. Candidates seemingly unable to let me ask my questions. People stuck on what they want to communicate, rather than listening to what I want to know.


The Structure of Interviews

At most companies, interviews are organized into competencies. These competencies are lists of topics that each interviewer needs to assess. They’re are a relatively short list of important skills and/or personality traits they’re looking for in an excellent candidate.