Salesforce exec shares the top interview mistake recent grads should avoid

Tony Prophet participates in a panel discussion at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission on June 6, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
Steve Jennings / Getty Images

Before becoming Salesforce's chief equality officer in 2016, Tony Prophet spent several years working as an executive at major tech companies like Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.

As someone who has hired countless people throughout his career, Prophet knows that one of the best ways to impress a hiring manager is to be relaxed and authentic in an interview. That's why he says one of the biggest mistakes recent graduates should avoid is approaching an interview as a rehearsed monologue, rather than a two-way conversation.

"I think people often have so much that they want to get out that they sometimes start playing a tape of the things that are in their mind that they have rehearsed," he tells CNBC Make It, "rather than taking the cues from the person that's interviewing them about the pace, about being concise, about the non-verbals when they want to hear more and those times when they are like 'OK, I got the point.'"

Tony Prophet speaks during the DreamForce Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014.
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Being mindful of these cues, Prophet says, is incredibly important, because it helps you and the hiring manager to remain on the same page throughout the meeting.

As a way to help you appear more relaxed and confident (even if you don't feel that way!), Prophet suggests doing some research on the company and the person you're interviewing with before your face-to-face conversation. This way, he says, you can convey a genuine curiosity about the company and the hiring manager.

"If you come into an interview setting and you've done your research both on the company and on the person, then you may stumble across some commonality you have with the person that you just didn't expect," he explains. "Maybe you looked them up on LinkedIn and saw one thing you have in common and that can be something that helps to create that human connection."

Like many executives, Prophet says he relies on one go-to interview question to see if someone will be a good asset to his team.

"I'd say one of my key go-to questions is, 'When is a time when you didn't get it all right?'" he says. "And then more importantly, 'What did you learn from it and how did you incorporate that into your career going forward?'"

He explains that while past accomplishments are good to talk about, the key trait that will win him over in an interview is a candidate's ability to discuss how they have grown and moved forward after failure.

"It's important for me personally to have folks that bore up a growth mindset, that are open to learning, open to hearing about the experiences of others and open to being transparent about their failures," he says. "Don't just promote all of your successes, but be transparent and say, 'Hey, here's a place where I had a challenge and here's what I learned from it.'"

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