Job interviewing is one of life’s necessary evils. While I work with a lot of confident professionals and executives who welcome an opportunity to interview and believe strongly that if they just get the interview, they’ll land the job, that isn’t always the case. Obviously, only one candidate can come out on top, so just making it to the interview is not enough, no matter how confident you are.
That raises the question, especially for folks who interview well, why didn’t I get that job? There isn’t one pat answer to that question. When you’re interviewing you’re dealing with human beings who come to the table with their own opinions, biases and preferences. Sometimes you may never know why you didn’t make it through to the next round of interviews. But the following are three reasons that frequently hold a candidate back:
1. You didn’t make a good first impression. It takes just seconds for an interviewer to form a first impression about you. Make sure you’re dressed professionally, have a firm handshake and a good smile when you initially meet your interviewer.
2. You didn’t do your research. There’s no excuse for not having researched the company and even the person with whom you’re interviewing. In our Internet age with information at our finger tips there are several things that you must do: read the company’s website, look for the person and company you’re interviewing with on LinkedIn and Google, and you may even want to check out some financial websites for additional information. Remember, knowledge is power. Not only do you want to impress the interviewer that you care enough to learn more about the position, this is your time to determine whether it’s really a company that suits you as well.
3. You didn’t have any questions about the company or the position. Really, you’re looking at making a career move and taking a job where you’ll be spending at least 40 hours of your life every week and you have no questions about the company or your duties? Interviewers want to see that you’re intellectually curious, that you’re interested in their company and that you have intelligent questions about your role within the organization.
Interviewing well is more important now than ever before. So remember, it’s important to primp, prepare, and practice.
Interviewing is a 2-way street. Not only is the interviewer asking you questions to see if you’d be a good hire, you should be doing your own due diligence and asking questions to see if the position is good fit for you. There are a lot of good questions to ask (and you should), depending on the role you’re seeking and what you’ve already found out about the company, but there are three key questions that will help you excel in your job interview.
1. What’s most appealing to you about my background? This is a great question to ask early in the interview because it will enable you to frame your answers accordingly. If the interviewer is interested in your sales skills, you don’t want to be going on and on about your impressive operations expertise. You want to uncover the interviewer’s needs and goals and then tell them how you can help them achieve them.
2. Is there anything that would prevent us from moving forward? For some people, this is a scary question because it may actually prompt the interviewer to express why you’re not a good fit for the position. But, that’s exactly the kind of information the question is designed to illicit. If you don’t ask this question, you’ll never have the opportunity to address the concern the interviewer has about hiring you. By asking this question, you have the opportunity to address any doubts and ideally, change the interviewer’s opinion.
3. What are the next steps? This question enables you to find out the interviewer’s plans and his or her time table for completing the interviewing and hiring process.
After the interview always write a followup thank you note. Not only is this is another opportunity to market yourself, the followup note gives you a chance to reiterate your interest in the position, to emphasize some key strengths that were important to the interviewer and to rehabilitate any area that you felt you handled poorly in the interview.
If it’s a close contest between you and another candidate (and many are in today’s competitive job market), asking the right questions and sending a well-crafted followup, thank you note can mean the difference between hearing the words “You’re Hired!” and crickets.
You’re about to go on a job interview for that perfect position that will really make your career take off. That means you need to prepare. Like most things in life, if you want to be good at something it takes practice. A good way to polish your performance is by role playing with an expert career coach (like me) or learning by example. Take a look at the following Frontier Airlines Animal Auditions, there’s a lot that can be learned from these clever critters including the good, the bad and the ugly.
THE GOOD: Polly the Parrot on why she’s on the market, “My pirate died.” Great answer for needing a new job. The answer shows she’s looking due to circumstances beyond her control and therefore it does not reflect poorly on Polly or her job performance. Since the death of an employer is not usually why professionals are on the market, it’s a good idea to develop a communication strategy and answer to the question of why you’re looking for a new position before going on the interview.
Polly, an expert at mimicry, also bonds well with her interviewers. She takes the mirroring technique to a whole new level. Now while you may want to subtly mirror your interviewer’s body language, the way they act and the way they sound to create an unconscious bond, the key word is to be subtle and mirror as opposed to mimic. While Griz loved Polly’s antics, she may have overstepped and been a little too flip with Flip.
THE BAD: Fred the Walrus has difficulty communicating and answering basic interview questions. When interviewing you need to be able to articulate the benefits you bring to your future employer. If being a talking animal is one of the skill sets then you’d better be able to communicate and connect with all of the individuals with whom you interview, not just Griz.
Duke the Arctic Dog goes through a litany of things he doesn’t do before he gets to the one skill set that impresses his interviewers. If you don’t have the skills a company needs, go on the offensive and quickly show off what you do bring to the table.
Enrique the Tree Frog starts asking for concessions and accommodations, “Is it possible for me to be on the nose of the plane instead of the tail?” before he even has an offer. You definitely want to wait until you’re at the negotiation phase of the interview process before you start asking for special treatment. Once you have the offer, you know the potential employer likes you and wants to bring you on board, then you have more wiggle room.
THE UGLY: Doug the Dung Beetle. In an interview, if you really want to land the job you have to keep some s@#! to yourself, ‘nuf said.