As a panel member, having sat on a number of oral boards and having worked with hundreds of officers at improving their interview performance, I found there are distinct commonalities that individually or collectively can take points away from their scored performance. Examine the following list and let it serve as the “what not to do” during your oral interview. Your goal is to score as high as possible, but what good is it if you take two steps forward and then make common mistakes that force you two steps back, or even worse… three steps back? Half the battle after gaining points in an interview is to know how not to lose them. Test well!
1. Lacks energy, interest, or personality; is physically robotic.
2. Interest in promotion is for wrong reasons (money only, going to change everything, going to show others how to do it right, etc.)
3. Offers criticism of existing organizational command staff or competition.
4. Maintains unusual or inappropriate facial expressions (rolling the eyes, mouth hanging open, no eye contact, grinding teeth, etc.)
5. Provides a limp, weak, wet-fish handshake; a sweat drenched palm; a bone-crushing vice-grip handshake; or a half-hand handshake.
6. Demonstrates uncertainty; inability to make a decision or commitment; or cannot assume the role being tested for.
7. Gives one sentence or single word answers (topical, cosmetic, no depth).
8. No prepared opening statement or a closing statement that consists only of, “Thank you for your time.”
9. Having an expressionless stone face that never smiles or grinning for no apparent reason throughout the entire interview.
10. Sidestepping the question or providing information that does not answer or is unrelated to the question.
11. Overbearing, overaggressive, conceited with a self-important been there done that attitude.
12. Inability to communicate clearly: Monotone; poor diction; poor enunciation; volume too high or too low; verbal pace too fast or too slow.
13. Lack of confidence, composure, or poise; is physically and verbally over-nervous.
14. Displays no interest in work related activities, volunteering, committees, professional associations, training, schooling, clubs, or projects.
15. Overestimates the power and authority of the position being tested for.
16. Makes excuses, rationalizes, or is unaccountable, regarding unfavorable issues.
17. Lacks flexibility; inability to adapt to a changing scenario.
18. Lack of courtesy, humility, and respect: is ill mannered.
19. Shows an inability to assume or understand the role of the position being sought.
20. Has an inability to comment decisively on ethics, leadership, or community issues.