If you have no trouble getting an interview, but never seem to get the job or are always second runner up; you may be wondering what’s going on.
It’s difficult to know precisely where things go wrong with an interview. But you really can’t judge yourself. And it is extremely rare that once you’ve been passed over that the hiring manager or human resources professional will tell you exactly what went wrong.
I suggest you find someone you trust and ask them to interview you. This needs to be done by someone who will tell you exactly what they see…even if it’s not really going to make you happy. Someone who cares about you but doesn’t love you would be best. Typically a family member is the wrong choice.
For example, you need to know if you are making eye contact or are you staring at the floor? Do you make so much eye contact you’re coming across like a potential stalker? Or, if asked, could you even tell the interviewer what color shirt they are wearing?
There are so many reasons I’ve seen interviews go badly. The top four I hear regularly:
1. Candidate showed no interest or enthusiasm for the company or the position for which they were interviewing. In response to the question: “Do you know what we do?” The worst answer you can give is…”I don’t know. I didn’t look you up.”
Alternatively, “Yes I’ve analyzed your company and done personal background checks on every senior manager and I know that you take sugar in your coffee and stop at Starbucks every morning on the way to work at 7:35 a.m.” will NOT gain you any points.
2. Candidate arrived late for the interview.
Alternatively, arriving more than ten minutes early can be a little off putting as well. Sitting in the reception area for an hour watching people come and go isn’t going to make a good impression.
3. Candidate seemed to only be interested in the salary and benefits package.
Asking questions about the company, the position and the general culture is perfectly acceptable. Asking about salary and benefits on the first interview is not. If that’s the first question out of your mouth, you can pretty much be guaranteed that you will not be getting an offer. There’s a time and a place for these types of questions and the first interview is not it.
4. Candidate arrived dressed inappropriately. While it is rare, I have seen candidates arrive for an interview in ripped jeans and a stained t-shirt for a senior level position. Unless there’s an extremely good reason, dress as professionally as possible.
Acceptable exceptions: A senior level engineer went to an interview in a suit, tie and jeans because he broke his leg in a car accident and did not want to cut his dress slacks to go over the cast. (He got the job). Also, a professional administrative assistant went to an interview in a suit and heavy duty boots with ice cleats. There was eight inches of snow and freezing rain and she didn’t want to fall down in the parking lot. (She got the job).
There’s an expression that you should dance like no one is watching. It’s a fine line to interview with confidence, like you don’t need the job but are still very excited by the opportunity.