5 Common Interview Mistakes that Could Cost You Your Dream Job (and How to Avoid Them)

There have been many articles on our site on software testing interviews. That is because, we, as IT professionals, have to experience and make it through many of them in many forms. At STH, we acknowledge this and we want to help our readers as much as we can.

Today, we will look at the 5 common interview mistakes that could cost us our dream job and how to avoid them.

We are not going to go into the obvious interview red flags- dressing sloppy, not being on time, not carrying a copy of your resume or identification when you were told to, etc. We are all better than that, right? This is more about the answers to some common interview questions that might come out wrong.

What You Will Learn:

5 Huge interview red-flags:

Let us get straight to these common interview mistakes:

#1. Negativity:

No complaints about your past. This might happen when answering questions like “Why are you looking for a change?” We can very easily say something ‘not nice’ about our previous work experience.

A small anecdote: My first job was with a major Indian IT consulting firm and I being an entry-level fresher, I was a buffer/shadow/non-billable resource in a testing project. I was not given any real work and all I had to do was “learn” by watching. My job was simply to consolidate all the bug reports created by the individual testers in the team at the end of the day. Trust me, it was pathetic. But, that’s not the point.

Say, this is the position you are trying to make a move from. When a question comes to you- “What was your role in the project?” What is your answer going to be? There are two ways to handle this- the optimist and the pessimist way. The pessimist way is to complain how you were not trusted with any important tasks and all you had to do was merge the individual bug reports. The optimist way is to explain how you were the quality representative for your team who made sure the bug reports were complete and had no duplicates/inaccurate information – or how you got a chance to look into the entire project related issues and in effect the entire AUT instead of being confined to a certain module. It is apparent which one is a better answer, correct?

So, no matter how bad the current job/company/boss/salary/project/process– it helps to find what is good about them and only choose that part to include in your answers during an interview.

#2. Lying about your skills on the resume:

This is an aspect that cannot be reminded enough. We all want good jobs, we all want our resumes to be noticed and more than that, we want that lifeless-resume-search-engine to pick just us from all the 1000s of them out there. This often leads to a kind of passive desperation and compels us to put something on our resume that isn’t totally correct. E.g. adding automation tools when you don’t have any hands-on experience. We might successfully fool the machine, but we won’t be able to do that with an interviewer. Careful what you write in there.



Recommended read => How to prepare software testing QA resume?

#3. Talking endlessly:

Another personal experience to share here. There was this one interview a few years ago when I almost had the job. It was a referral, a perfect fit to my skill set and the interview panel had a few of my friends. I still did not get the job. Frankly, I would not have hired myself. Why? I would not stop talking and I had no idea what I was talking. The very same day, I came back from an international business trip, was jet-lagged and sleep-deprived- Traveled way too far on a hot summer afternoon in the busy city traffic and was out of breath when I got there. So, when the interviewer asked me questions, I was all about ‘just talking’ instead of saying anything meaningful. I learnt that day when we can’t be “Present” we should not be. So, when you have an interview and you are serious about making it successful- be present, answer only appropriately and be professional. If you can’t be – respectfully reschedule.

Other common interview mistakes in conversational are:

Trying to use big words out of context: This will cause unnecessary follow up questions. Say, you have no idea but have heard about “Business continuity plan- BCP”. When you were asked about test planning, you said we also have to come up with a BCP- but not knowing the full extent on the topic. The interviewer, as expected, will ask you what BCP is and the rest, I don’t have to explain.

Filler words: There are a few filler words we use often-mostly when nervous- in conversations. One of my trainers always used the phrase “The one” and I have been told that I say “So” very often to keep the flow of a sentence going. Recognize if that’s happening and try to stay calm. It’s ok to be nervous, but the real trick is to camouflage it. Think of an interview as a professional conversation – listen and respond appropriately.

#4. Do not commit:

Commit to working hard. Commit to integrity. Commit to discipline. But do not commit to a timeline, salary expectation or anything more serious. Let me give you an example, how long will you stay with the company? – try to say something non-committal- “as long as it takes (with a smile)” or “however long you would like me to stay” are all good because you are not promising anything. If you say- “As long as I find it challenging” – this will mean, you will quit the minute work is more routine. “As long as it is good for my career”- means you are only interested in your welfare and do not care about the company. Really, there is no good way to answer questions like this- So, invite your sense of humour and stay on a neutral ground.

#5. What are your weaknesses?

Wait, don’t answer that. We are human, thus- not perfect. Also, we know our weaknesses best. It does not mean we have to go about letting everyone know of them. Especially not in an interview. Twist the answer around to mean that it is a strength of yours. You can say “You can’t stand grammatical/spelling errors in reference documents”- this will mean you are diligent and want things to be in a standard way. Or you can say- “I often arrive at meetings early and have to wait for the others, which can be quite annoying”- shows punctuality. So, you get the picture, right?

Well, we hope we have conditioned you (just kidding) to spot these interview red flags early on and avert the danger.

Also read => software testing interview questions and answers.

Author: These common interview mistakes are shared with you by STH team member Swati S.

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