Interviews are a two-way street - how to avoid the biggest mistakes for both sides.

These Interview Mistakes Are Costing You and What to do Instead (BOTH Sides)


Every interview is a two-way street.  


The best interviews are when both parties come together to confirm or deny if it makes sense to move forward (or not). After all, alignment is the new loyalty.

Think about it, you’re both going to find out one way or another. Why not save the time, energy, frustration, and cost to figure things out together now than later when it’s a whole lot tricker? 


The best interviews are a collaborative effort for BOTH parties. Digging into the theoretical and most importantly practical important nooks and crannies.


But even the best interview can be thrown off the rails by one careless mistake on either side. 


Given the work I do at Avenue Talent Partners and Better Together, I thought it was important to break down the biggest mistakes both sides make and what to do instead.  


Let’s dig in!


Mistakes on the Hiring Manager Side

Mistake #1: Going on a witch hunt

Something I’ve noticed with the founders and executives I work with is that they’re paralyzed by fear… afraid of making the wrong decision. So much so, that it skews their perception of candidates. 


They focus on everything that’s missing or they don’t like, that they lose sight of all the great things the person brings to the table. When this happens, many of the wrong assumptions are made. And it leaves so much opportunity behind.

What to do instead:

Instead of worrying about making the wrong decision, focus your energy on making the right decision.


After all, you find what you look for. 


Every business is different and there is no such thing as perfection. Taking the time upfront to understand what good looks like for your business, stage, the role, and the work required to do it well is what matters.  


Ditch those FOMO feelings, get clear, and use a hiring scorecard. Clarity makes everything and everyone around you clearer. So that when you find a remarkable person, you can take action quickly AND confidently.  

Mistake #2: Focusing on selling the job 


One of the worst pieces of advice I hear founders receive is, “your job is to sell the candidate on the job.” Absolutely false! Your job is to achieve alignment. When that happens, there’s no need for selling, the opportunity speaks for itself.


If pitching doesn’t work in sales, why on earth would it work here? 

What to do instead:

Remember, people don’t expect perfection, they expect honesty. 


As a hiring manager, it’s critical to dig below the surface and get a real, tangible sense of how each candidate will perform in the role. 


Get as close to practice as possible to ensure the candidate understands the task at hand while providing you with an opportunity to accurately measure three critical things:


  1. Skill
  2. Will
  3. The ‘lean-in’ factor


This plus the power of a hiring scorecard will help you stay on track while measuring what matters the most. The best part? It’s my favorite way to avoid the shiny objects:



Mistake #3: Winging the interview


Just because you’re on the employer side of the equation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Without the proper preparation, you’ll be flying blind and won’t be able to properly evaluate what the person is really bringing to the table.

Also, your lack of preparation sends a clear message and signals to candidates what you’re like to work with, how much you care, and how seriously you’re taking an important decision. Top talent is turned off by this and they’ll happily look for something else that’ll treat them with the respect they deserve… regardless of market conditions.


Russell Wison said it best, “the separation is in the preparation.”

What to do instead:

Take the time before each interview to review:


  • The candidate’s resume
  • The details they’ve shared with you thus far and any areas you need to drill into further
  • The questions you want to ask and why they matter
  • The categories from the hiring scorecard you’d like to dig into
  • Their digital footprint
  • Review your notes from previous interviews (if applicable)
  • Feedback from others 
  • Reverse engineer these questions, think about them from your point of view, and ask questions that correlate


This is the only way you’ll be able to dig deep to fully understand what they bring to the table.

Mistake #4: A craptastic job description


The interview process begins well before you start talking to candidates. And your job description is a powerful magnet… attracting and repelling. 


A well done job description is NOT looking online, copying and pasting what looks cool or relevant, putting your logo on it, and calling it good.


Instead, it’s an intentional exercise to think about YOUR business and why it’s time to hire now.

Remember, it’s merely an invitation for a conversation. It should clearly outline your “must-haves”, the bits and pieces that make you special, and the almighty “what’s in it for them.” If your job description fails to do this well, prepare yourself to spend a lot of time with a lot of people that don’t make sense for the role.

A vague, poorly written or a long, drawn out job description just ends up wasting everyones’ time during the interview process… especially yours.

What to do instead:

Do NOT copy and paste someone else’s job description.


Map out what success in the role looks like. The best way to do this is to stop and think about what you’ll be proud of in a year from now. What does it take to achieve those results and pinpoint the details from there?


The more you embrace this, the more you’ll stand out. Because you’re showcasing your opportunity in its true form and what’s possible together. NOT someone else’s.


It also creates clarity. And when you’re clear, everyone else is too. And your hiring process immediately elevates. Increasing the number of qualified candidates while reducing noise.


Pro tip:  Pay closer attention the words you use in your job descriptions. This helps you attract a more diverse pool of candidates. Focus on must-have skills and cut the rest. For example, many women won’t apply to a job if they think they’re not 100% qualified, where many men will anyway.


Tools like Textio, Datapeople, and this free gender decoder tool help you put your best written foot forward. 


Careless Mistakes on the Candidate Side


Mistake #1: Faking it till you make it

Don’t try to be somebody that you’re not. The truth is always revealed and it’s a gnarly hornets nest to try to unravel later.

I recently talked to someone in my Better Together community, and they were so busy focusing on the “right answer” that they lost sight of their competency and answer that they botched the interview as a result. 


When you’re clear on your superpowers and what you do well, along with knowing the work you’ve done with the ability to easily back it up, you don’t have to worry about crafting a perfect answer.

What to do instead:

It may sound simple and cliché, but you just have to be yourself in interviews. That’s the only way to achieve alignment with a role that’s a great fit and fulfills you.

The same rules above about clarity, apply to you as well. Most people I interview, can’t easily or clearly describe what they’ve done, how, and the outcomes and lessons learned.


Take the time to develop 1-3 “power statements” that quantify and qualify each of these questions:


  • Where did you do X?
  • Who did you do it with?
  • Why did you do it?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What did you learn from it?
  • So what?.. How does this tie into the current role and why should they care?


This will make you standout to leave the people interviewing you wanting more.


If you don’t do this, how will you know if the job is a good fit?


If you’re struggling and need a little bit more hand-holding on this topic (or anything else when it comes to putting your best interview foot forward), check out Better Together. I lead this career-coaching community and designed it to help you get back on track.

Mistake #2: Obsessing over specific questions


Many candidates think they can get a leg up by trying to anticipate what an interviewer is going to ask them. They spend a good chunk of their preparation time creating answers for those questions and rehearsing them, so they’re ready to go in the interview.

However, this often backfires because you end up assuming you know what someone wants to hear. When this happens, you end up talking AT a person instead of with them.

And if all you have are rehearsed answers, how are you really able to confirm/deny if you’re aligned?

What to do instead:

Don’t assume.  Ask the person you’re interviewing with what they hope to get out of your time together and think about how your experience ties back to that. 


Relax and remember, nobody knows you better than you. An interview can take different directions, just like any good conversation. 


Be ready to talk about all of your past experiences (the questions above and those power statements help with this) and, more importantly, how it relates to the position you’re interviewing for. 


One of my favorite interviews made it easy to understand why they made sense for the role we were working on.  This is a peek into how they talked about their experience:


“I saved the company $$$ every month.  Our burn was X, our revenue was Y, our profit was Z, and our churn was XX%.  This is how I did it…”


This is what you’re going for!


Pro tip:  If you get stumped, own it. Don’t fumble your way through a BS filled answer. Lean into honesty over trying to be perfect.


Mistake #3: Failing to prepare

It’s painfully obvious and a surefire way to not be invited back when a person shows up to an interview ill prepared.  


If you show up and try to wing it, why would I think you’re going to take the role seriously if you get hired? 


If you’re in sales, you know how important it is to know your customers before a big meeting.  Interviews are no different. 

What to do instead:

Know the answers AKA “power statements” to those questions above like the back of your hand.


Research the company and the people you’re scheduled to interview with:


  • What is the company sharing on their press release page and what are their competitors going through?
  • What are they talking about on LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts?
  • Look at the “must haves” section on the job description and tie your experience back to how you can help because you’ve done this work before.
  • Set up a Google alert on the company the minute you agree to interview to stay on top of what’s happening.
  • Tools like The Org help you understand how the company is structured and so much more.
  • Use LinkedIn to understand your mutual connections and leverage those relationships to understand more.
  • Research their competitive landscape, I love tools like Owler.
  • Attend their events, do their demos, lean into understanding their buyer journey.


This investment of your time will pay off helping you stand out while making an indelible impression.  




You can’t fake care. This preparation will come through when you’re having a conversation to show them you’re taking this seriously, the commitment you’ve made to the task at hand, and points to the fact that if you’re doing this now, you’ll be doing the same thing in the role.

Mistake #4: Missing the basics

Every detail matters in an interview.

This is likely your first in-person impression, so the pressure’s on to make it a good one. Missing any of the obvious details makes you stand out in a negative way – why give a hiring manager any red flags if you don’t have to?


Here are the basics I’m talking about:


  • Show up on time.
  • Take notes.
  • Be mindful of your digital body language.
  • Dress to impress (while staying aligned with the company culture).
  • Read ALL interview instructions beforehand and follow them. 
  • Show gratitude, those thank you note’s matter!
  • Be prepared to ask questions during the interview – otherwise, how will the hiring manager know that you’re actually interested? And how can you make a great decision?
  • Take and apply feedback, ditch your ego.


These might sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many people miss them and end up scratching their heads, wondering what happened.

What to do instead:

Lean into the details above. 


Show not just tell, walk your talk to say what you mean and mean what you say. Failing to follow through sends a clear message that you’re just not that into them. 


And if you’re not interested, that’s okay. This is what the process is for. Say thank you, offer a helping hand on the way out, and stay in touch. It’s a big, small world and you never know where your paths will cross again.


Wrapping Up


It bears repeating, interviews are a two-way street.

You can’t fake intentionality. Magic happens when both parties take the time to understand, are well prepared, can specify the details, own what’s missing, are clear about what’s required to move forward, and are able to make a well informed decision (even if the answer is ‘no thank you.) 

Happy interviewing!The Sales Scorecard