One of the worst mistakes any job seeker can make is thinking that they're good at interviewing when they actually aren't. Being charming or a good public speaker is not the same as being good at interviewing. Even if you're great at talking, you can still fall into traps that can ruin your chance of getting the job.
Of course, if you know you're bad at interviewing, start with the basics. Get coaching, practice, and work on your skills. Interviewing is not natural for many people, and there's no shame in working to become more comfortable with it.
If you're generally good at being interviewed, however, and have not gotten hired, you may be making one of these mistakes. The good news is that they are pretty easy to correct.
1. You don't answer the question asked
Sometimes you have a great story to tell or an example that directly answers a question you're asked by the interviewer. In other cases, it's possible to get sidetracked by having a good story to tell that's entertaining or enlightening but does not answer what you were asked.
Stay focused. It's fine to be charming, but it's more important to actually give answers to the questions you are asked.
2. You talk too much
People who are good speakers can hold an audience. That might create the opportunity for you to do most of the talking during the interview. Don't take advantage of your verbal skills. Make sure to leave space for the interviewer and, if appropriate, ask him or her some questions.
3. You don't listen
In most cases, there will be a segment of the interview where you get to ask questions. It's important to come in prepared with questions designed to further your understanding of the company, the position being offered, or sometimes both.
Once you ask a question, it's important to listen to the answer and ask any follow-ups that become necessary. Don't let yourself mentally walk away as you think about what's coming next or what else you might say.
Put your best self forward
You want the interviewer to know that you're skilled, not just charming. Be warm and show off your personality, but make sure you're being substantive in what you say. Provide concrete examples, not amusing anecdotes (though it's generally good when one answer can be both).
Show the interviewer that you would be a good person to work with, not just someone it would be fun to hang out with. Remember that it's a job interview, not a first date, and you should be able to turn more interviews into offers.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.