What are some of the lesser-known but still common mistakes that prevent candidates from performing at their best in an interview?
This is a great question. As a Microsoft recruiter, I often see candidates make the following three mistakes:
Self-awareness is one of the key traits we look for at Microsoft. That means having a solid understanding of your strengths, weaknesses and how your actions and behavior can impact others around you.
During the interview process you may be asked, “How have your interviews gone so far?” The candidates who possess a fair degree of self-awareness will reflect on each interview in order to critically determine what went well and what areas could have been improved.
Not taking feedback to heart
We also look for candidates who are “coachable.” During on-site interviews, candidates receive feedback from interviewers such as different ideas of how to approach a problem, tips for future interviews and overall areas to improve. The goal is not only to help candidates excel in the interviews, but also to see if: a) they are actively listening b) they can learn and grow in a short period of time c) they don’t have the mentality of, “it’s my way or the highway.”
People who succeed long-term at Microsoft are able to accept constructive feedback and implement ideas from others. It is essential that they demonstrate the maturity and confidence to work effectively with a team.
Forgetting to relax and have fun!
Here’s a personal story that will (hopefully) clarify my point. During college, I ran cross-country. One day while on a training run, my coach ran up beside me and asked a really pertinent question, “Colleen, do you realize how much faster you run during practice than you do in meets?” It dawned on me that my “relaxed self” loved to run for the fun of it and performed so much better than I did on race day, when my body tensed up and I became plagued with fear.
I often see candidates so nervous during the on-site interviews that they have trouble thinking clearly. The more relaxed and at ease we are in situations, the more we allow our strengths to really shine. The key is to have fun and see the interview process as an opportunity to meet really dynamic people, solve cool problems and learn more about Microsoft.
I hope this helps.