The 5 Simple Things That Can Kill Your Chances During a Job Interview

by General, Job Seeker

Interviews can be nerve wracking. What should you say, how should you dress, how should you prepare, etc. etc. There’s definitely a lot to consider. To lessen the anxiety and help bring focus to the most important experience you’ll have during the (often) lengthy job search process, we’ve spoken to hundreds of hiring managers to find out what are the things to avoid when you sit down to talk to one of them. Falling into the trap of some of these will almost certainly hurt your chances of getting the job. So be aware, be empowered and always stay informed!

Not preparing in advance.

This is hands down the one item that comes up the most when we talk to Hiring Managers (HM’s). “They don’t know anything about the job they are interviewing for!” is common feedback we get about how candidates perform when they interview.

Sadly, too often candidates are focused on getting the interview and finding a job more than they are on finding a career. While the pragmatic need of getting a paycheck shouldn’t be lost on anyone, companies will want to make sure you’ll plan on sticking around for the long haul. (Hiring is costly and takes time away from running a business so most companies would prefer to do it as infrequently as possible.)

One of the ways Hiring Managers determine how interested you are in the specific role they are trying to fill is how much investigation and research you’ve done ahead of time to prepare for the interview. If you haven’t taken even a small amount of time to really understand what the role requires, the company’s culture and/or the background of the Hiring manager, then how sincere are you in wanting to stick with that job over the long term? And if you aren’t taking the interview seriously enough to properly prepare, how seriously will you take the job if you get hired? The answer is obvious.

Be sure to use LinkedIn and other resources to learn as much about the company as you can. Have they been hiring quite a bit? If yes, why? Is it related to employee turnover or growth in the business? What does an ideal candidate look like to them?

How would the Hiring Manager characterize his/her leadership style? All these questions suggest that you are thinking about a long term fit for yourself. Plus, the answers you receive will help you to better understand what you are getting yourself into if you do get the job offer you are seeking.

Not following up afterwards.

Years ago, a follow up ‘thank you’ email was common and frankly it was considered table stakes stuff to be done after interviews. But as job boards and social media started to crowd the hiring landscape, the hiring process sped up exponentially and frankly, it’s at that point that things started to get messy.

Somewhere in this hiring evolution was a decline in the amount of follow up candidates did after an interview. Hiring Managers tell us that these days it is rare for candidates to send a simple follow up email or contact them afterwards with additional questions. And many of them take notice… “A follow up email won’t get a candidate hired but it is definitely something that could break a tie between two comparable candidates.” is something we frequently hear from HM’s.

Following up to show appreciation for an interview will usually put you top of mind with Hiring Managers. It also gives you the opportunity t show off your sincerity in wanting the job, the discipline you’ll bring to the job and provides you with an opportunity to ask any questions that you may not have been able to ask during the interview. It could also provide you with the opportunity to strengthen your bond with key stakeholders in the company that you’re hoping to work for.

What’s the only thing worse than not following up? Following up too much. A big red flag for HM’s is someone who lacks the Emotional IQ to know when they’re communicating a bit too much. A simple ‘thank you’ email within 24-48 hours of the interview is outstanding but anything more becomes disruptive. And if you don’t get a response to your email, don’t feel compelled to send another. Just accept it and note the lack of the response when considering an offer from the company. Continuing to pester HR or the HM will make you look desperate. The last thing a company wants is to hire someone who may be needy and lacks the willpower to respect professional boundaries.

Being late…and being too early.

If you want to send a clear signal to a company that you’re not a driven professional, then show up late to an interview. Remember, the interview is a dress rehearsal for how you’ll behave once you are in the job and in almost all cases, employers want reliable employees who will show up to work when expected. If you’re headed to an interview, give yourself ample time to prevent bad traffic or any other of life’s unexpected turns to make you late. Plus, being late can stress you out and you’ll need to be on your A game when you sit in front of a Hiring Manager.

On the other hand, being too early is almost as bad as being late. We’ve seen candidates arrive 30 minutes early and sit in the building lobby or inside the company’s office waiting for the interview to begin. Never do this as it creates awkwardness with a prospective employer and tends to make companies feel a bit stressed out. And no one wants to interview with a stressed HM! Instead, arrive in the HM’s office or building no earlier than 5 minutes. Sit in your car or a local coffee shop if you need a place to hangout before your interview begins and use this extra time to practice your talk track and the points you want to cover during the interview.

Not asking questions.

Hiring Managers consistently remark how infrequently candidates have questions for them. A good HM views the interview is an opportunity to get to know a candidate and receiving a series of questions from them will tell the HM both what they’re thinking and what’s important to them. You should always remember that an interview is a two-way street, and it provides a great opportunity for you to find out if the company is the right fit for you. A lack of questions sends the message of a lack of interest.

As part of your preparation for the interview, develop a series of questions that give you greater clarity about the role, the company and what your new role will be like. Be sure to focus on larger issues (like company culture, internal promotion paths and company revenue goals) along with more tactical items (such as what a typical workday would look like and the benefits available to employees who are employed there).

Lastly, please don’t use the often-used excuse that all your questions were answered in a previous interview and as such, you don’t have any. There are always more questions to ask during an interview and most HM’s will see through this response as nothing more than a lack of preparation and a lack of desire for the job.

Being reactive versus proactive

Some candidates think that to solve the interview riddle, they need to be prepared for every single possible question that a HM might have for them. That’s not only incorrect, it’s also impossible to achieve. There’s no way to anticipate every question that will be asked of you during an interview. Yes, you should prepare for certain questions but more importantly, you’ll also need to have a strategy to proactively provide information about yourself that you feel is important for a HM to hear.

What are your super powers? What unique value would you bring to the organization if you are hired? What experiences make you the ideal candidate? You can’t wait for a HM to ask you about these, or you won’t be able to differentiate yourself from the crowd. You need to be prepared to smoothly inject these into the conversation to ensure that a HM gets the full picture of who you are and what you can bring to the table for a company.

Avoiding these 5 pitfalls won’t guarantee that you’ll win the job but they will certainly increase your chances. The hiring process can be a bit demoralizing but making sure you put yourself in a position to win will make the experience a bit easier to take. Ultimately, focus on what you can control as you search for you next job and focus on the plan you’ve created to get to your goal. Good luck and let us know if you need anything from us!

If we can assist you with any aspect of your career, contact us and let us know how we can help.

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