Interviewing is often a fraught exercise. You’re threading the needle between selling yourself and your accomplishments, while also being humble and self-aware. Say too much and you’re unlikeable. Say too little and people wonder if you have the skills.
Keep in mind that the interviewer hasn’t done your job at your company, and they can’t read your mind. So, instead of simply listing out all the things you did at your last job, speak to the value that your work added to the team, product, or company.
And be authentic. While the pressure of the interview can make it hard to really be yourself, try to shake off the nerves. The connection you forge with your interviewer(s) can have a big impact.
So, want to nail your next interview? Read on for five of the most common mistakes I’ve seen while interviewing hundreds of candidates at Facebook.
1. Being Unprepared
During an interview for a role on the Facebook Marketplace team:
Interviewer: What are your thoughts on the Marketplace experience?
Candidate: I’ve never used it.
I would understand if the product were an enterprise service, but this is a consumer product. Buying or selling something on Marketplace takes a short amount of time and money.
The Lesson: By not bothering to familiarize yourself with the product or the space, the interviewer is left wondering if you even want the job since you didn’t put in the time to test out the experience.
2. Appearing Apathetic
During an interview at Facebook for a Product Management role:
Interviewer: What makes you want to work at Facebook?
Candidate: A recruiter reached out to me, so I thought I would come in.
The interviewer has invested their energy and passion into the company they are at, and they want to hire someone who has the same commitment and excitement. Hearing you say you don’t really have a particular interest in their company is an instant turn off.
The Lesson: If you are unsure of your interest, say you are excited about the opportunity to learn more rather than give a half-hearted reply.
3. Focusing on the Wrong Things
Interviewer: What are you looking for in your next role?
Candidate: Growing my scope and managing a larger product set.
Scope and impact go hand in hand. Proving yourself makes it possible for you to grow your influence. Interviewers want to work with someone humble and willing to learn, not someone who sees the job as a stepping stone to something more.
The Lesson: Explain how you want to further the company and the team, not just yourself. Show you’re a team player by explaining how you’ve successfully managed projects through to the end.
4. Lacking Self-Awareness
During an interview called Leadership + Drive where they test for self-awareness and willingness to take feedback.
Interviewer: What area do you want to work on? What is your biggest gap?
Candidate: I work too hard and care too much.
This is not a trick question. What really is your greatest weakness? Couching it in a positive response makes interviewers think you are not self-aware enough to provide an answer, which means you are not open to growth. Our culture at Faceboook encourages us to “be open” and we look for people aware of their areas of growth.
The Lesson: By sharing what you are working on and what clear, concrete steps you are taking to improve, you will build a connection with the interviewer and humanize your challenges.
5. Selling Rather Than Listening
Interviewer: We have struggled with product market fit on this product for months.
Candidate: That’s easy. I have done it a dozen times before, here’s how.
A strong candidate is a great listener. Asking and learning what meaning is behind the question is important. Show you are intellectually curious and want to adapt new information.
The Lesson: When you’re in an interview, listen to the question, but also consider the rationale behind it. The interviewer is asking the question to learn more about your skill set. How you respond says a lot about your ability to not only answer the obvious question, but also your deductive reasoning skills.
When I leave a great candidate at the end of an interview, I can’t wait to work with them. There is a ‘fear of missing out’ feeling on all of the incredible things I can imagine them doing.
So, during your next interview demonstrate that you will bring a level of commitment and energy to the job by showing a passion for the space, the company, and the people. Enable an interviewer to see your mindset, flexibility, and self-awareness so they know you can listen to feedback and grow. And, connect with them on a human level. Show you are someone they would love to work in the trenches with everyday.