The atmosphere of today’s shaky economy and overcrowded job market easily affects attitudes about job interviews. Pass the initial candidate screening is already a great achievement and when people rush off to their interviews, they’re really stressed and often forget about some basic, but important details. When going to a job interview, you simply must remember that it’s a meeting designed for several purposes: showing those features and aspects of your personality that cannot be conveyed in your resume, impressing the recruiters or managers, and familiarizing yourself with the company culture.
Unfortunately, some candidates forget about the importance of the interview and don’t realize how many things can go wrong during one. It’s true – some things just happen and have nothing to you with you – a different candidate might have used their networking skills better, the company might have decided to make an internal hire or reorganized its structures so that the position offered was no longer needed. Or, quite surprisingly, the company might have just canceled the job offer altogether – several studies have shown that almost 10% of posted job listings never get filled.
If you’re trying to prepare for your interview, have a look at the list of top 10 reasons why job interviews go wrong – knowing this, you’ll be able to seize control of what happens during the meeting and boost your chances at landing the job.
1. Simply, You Were Late
It seems really basic, but it still happens. Candidates coming late for their job interviews are certain to land on any recruiter’s black list. Showing up on time is not just about good manners – it also shows the respect you feel towards your employers and the time they invest in meeting you. Arriving 10 minutes before the start of the job interview will show that you’re an investment material – someones who takes their responsibilities seriously.
What you need to do is prepare. If you’re arriving by car, test your route and give yourself a margin of 20 minutes – include possible traffic jams or accidents that might happen on the way. If you’re traveling to a different city, make sure to fly in the night before – arriving to the airport in the morning and finding out your flight was canceled won’t do for a good excuse for missing a job interview.
2. Your Network Didn’t Work
You might consider yourself introverted or shy, but that doesn’t mean you stand no chance at networking opportunities. If you’re eying a specific employer, try to get an internal reference – remember that many companies actually reward their employees for referring to newly hired workers.
Try following your employers on LinkedIn and see whether you’ve got something in common – other contacts, schools, neighborhood or friends. Get in touch with a person, who might help you to get in. Manage your professional image through other social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Don’t adopt a passive attitude and wait for your profiles to do your job.
3. You Failed to Prepare
If you’ve ever been to a job interview, you must have some expectations regarding the potential questions that usually are asked on such an occasion. If you come in unprepared for them, you risk losing your opportunity for hire. You can find lists of standard interview questions all over the web, so make sure you know how to answer them.
In order to succeed, you need to have a clear idea about the company you’re trying to get hired at – have a look on the web and check what are its areas of focus, how many people it employs, or what are its future goals and plans. Rehearse all your answers, making sure that you always refer to relevant working experience and give good examples of projects you worked on that might be of value to the recruiters.
4. Your Attire Wasn’t Appropriate
The job interview reality is harsh – you’ll be evaluated from the very beginning and even before you open your mouth. If your clothing is inappropriate, this quality will be extrapolated to other aspects of your person and even diminish your qualifications. First impressions count a lot, so make sure to avoid coming in dressed unprofessionally – avoid miniskirts, low cut blouses or rumpled clothes.
Go for a look of simple elegance and pick an outfit that will fit company culture. Men should make sure their shoes are polished, suits clean and dark, ties classic, teeth clean and hair brushed. Women should avoid exposing too much skin and keep makeup and jewelery to a minimum. Sharp, professional look will add to your competences.
5. You Didn’t Answer Important Questions
Some candidates are so stressed during their interviews that instead of politely listening to the recruiter’s questions, they provide answers that have literally nothing to do with what was being asked and just ramble on about their qualifications.
That’s a big mistake. In order to make the best impression possible, you need to be clear and responsive – providing substantial answers to all questions asked. The best way to do it is to simply rehearse your answers and keep them natural when you’re facing the interviewer.
6. You Didn’t Manage to Sell Yourself
Some candidates don’t like to boast about their achievements. This is a big mistake – especially during a job interview, when the time to demonstrate the skills required for the job is very limited.
Obviously, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. What to say in order not to sound too conceited? Instead of quoting your own, refer to the opinions of others, such as “I have a reputation for delivering my projects before deadlines”, instead of “I’m the smartest project manager at my company”.
7. Approach Was Wrong
Today many job seekers just ooze desperation and their negative attitude is nothing short of annoying and simply contagious. Facing a constant stream of rejection, moping over unanswered applications and panicking because of tough competition doesn’t make anyone feel self-assured either.
A job interview brings out all those feelings, but in order to succeed, you’ll need to control them and simply expect to perform great. Acting confident and channeling this attitude to your body language will do wonders for your chances at landing the job.
8. You Were Betrayed By Your Body Language
If you kept fidgeting while waiting for your job interview, you gave a limp handshake and obsessively avoided looking directly at hiring managers, it’s clear that you didn’t make a really good impression. Our bodies react to stress in shutting out, but in order to impress recruiters, you’ll need to control those responses and show your enthusiasm for the position through your body language.
What to do? Don’t cross your arms, stay in an open position, maintain eye contact (not for more than 8-10 seconds every time) and sit forward. Control the pitch and tone of your voice – try to be as natural as the situation allows you.
9. You Failed to Ask Relevant Questions
You must know very well how each and every interview ends – with ‘Do you have any questions?’ inquiry from the recruiter. If your answer is negative, you’re not impressing anyone – you’re just projecting your lack of enthusiasm for the job. That’s not something hiring managers appreciate.
You should prepare one or two questions that are relevant to the position – ask about important aspects of the job like gaining new qualifications through training or company culture. Avoid subjects, such as holidays or employee perks. Ask about the next steps in the hiring process – that will give you a lot of practical information and a potential time frame after which you’re free to reach out and inquire about the hiring decision.
10. You Forgot to Follow Up
One of the cardinal mistakes made by candidates is not following up after the interview. If it’s not specified otherwise, you should send a quick thank you note right after your interview – thank the recruiter for his time and reiterate your interest in the position.
If you make it creative, a thank you note can set you apart from other candidates – in a good sense! It’s just a few minutes of your time but can be invaluable when you get remembered and actually land the job.
All in all, knowing how to behave and what to avoid during job interviews is a kind of knowledge that will prove useful on other occasions as well. In order to succeed, candidates must remember that the impression they make during the interview stands behind every hiring decision made by the recruiters and should be treated with due consideration.
This guest post was written by Isabel Wiliams of UK-based BizDb. With a background in new business technologies, Isabel is a passionate blogger and experienced educator who writes and lectures about leveraging the potential of the Internet for business development.