In today’s shaky economy and overcrowded job market, it’s easy to overlook some of the most basic things that might go wrong once we pass the initial candidate screening and rush off to our job interviews. Some people mistakenly believe that getting the opportunity of an interview means landing the job – the reality is that job interviews are a great first step at getting to know the company and its culture, showing those aspects of your professional life and personality that cannot be contained within your resume and impressing the hiring managers.
There are many things that can go wrong during a job interview. Some of them have no direct connection to you – the company might have resorted to an internal hire, another candidate might have used his killer networking skills to get the job, the company decided to reorganize its structures so that the job offer became obsolete or, quite simply, the company might have cancelled the job posting altogether (believe it or not, but studies show that almost 10% of job postings are never filled).
Then there are things that can ruin your interview and are absolutely within your control. Here are ten most disastrous reasons why your job interview can go wrong.
1. You were late:
As basic as it might seem, this is still one of the most common mistakes candidates make when invited to a job interview. Showing up on time is crucial – it demonstrates the respect you have for the time of your potential employers. Besides, who would want to employ a candidate that is bound to often be late to work?
What to do? Prepare beforehand and, if necessary, test your route to see if you manage to arrive 10 minutes before the hour of your scheduled interview. If you need to take a flight, pick an afternoon flight the day before instead of rushing off in the early morning to find out your flight was cancelled or delayed. Give yourself enough time for all possible distractions like traffic jams or incidents that might happen along the way.
2. Your networking was not effective:
Being shy or introverted is not an excuse to avoid networking – especially if you’re interested in a particular employer. An internal reference can be a deal-breaker and you ought to know that it’s not just that they’re doing you a favour – companies often reward their employees for referring someone who gets hired.
How to use networking to your advantage? Follow your chosen employers on LinkedIn, look for contacts with whom you share something (other contacts, friends, neighbourhood, school) and get in touch. Use other social media like Twitter and Facebook to manage your professional image. Don’t be passive and expect your profiles to simply do the job for you.
3. You weren’t prepared:
This is an important point. Candidates that show up on their interviews and have no idea about what the company does quickly land in the interviewer’s black list. Then there are those standard questions that are simply bound to be asked and yet, candidates might not know how to answer them properly.
Solution? Prepare beforehand. Do a little research about the company – find out how many people it employs, what are its areas of focus, what are their goals and projected future. Prepare for the questions asked by the interviewer by rehearsing your answers – make sure to refer to relevant professional experience and state some examples of the projects you worked with that are of value to the position for which you’re being interviewed.
4. Your dress didn’t impress:
Before you even open your mouth, the recruiter will have already judged you on the basis of your attire. It’s harsh, but that’s the reality – first impressions count a lot, especially in short interviews. Coming in with rumpled clothes, improper ties, mini-skirts and low cut blouses is not going to work to your favour.
How to dress properly? Count on simple elegance and sharp, professional look. Guys should make sure their ties are classic, shoes polished, suits dark and clean, hair brushed and teeth clean. The same goes for women – dress should be formal and make up invisible.
5. You failed to answer some questions:
Instead of listening well to the interviewer’s questions and providing relevant answers, candidates tend to get stressed and ramble on about everything but the subject of the question. Your answers should be substantial, since they are probably aimed at uncovering a crucial skill or competence.
How to do that? Prepare and rehearse your answers, but make to sound natural when you actually speak to the interviewer.
6. Your attitude was wrong:
Desperate job seekers just ooze desperation and their pessimistic attitude can be contagious. With the stream of rejection, unanswered applications and tough competition it’s no wonder a job interview brings out those feelings, but they need to be harnessed if one wants to succeed.
The trick is to simply expect to do great. Greeting the interviewer with a firm handshake and radiating confidence will get you closer to succeeding.
7. Your body language betrayed you:
You were fidgeting when waiting for your interview, your handshake was limp and you were too stressed out to make eye contact? No wonder you didn’t make a good impression.
Having a firm grasp on our bodily responses when we’re stressed is key to impress future employers. During the interview itself you should stay in an open position (don’t cross your arms), sit forward and make eye contact. Show your enthusiasm for the position and translate this feeling to your body language.
8. You never asked any questions:
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will usually ask whether you’ve got any questions. With a ‘no’ answer, you’re showing lack of enthusiasm or interest in the position offered. That’s not a good impression and it can successfully ruin your work from the last hour.
Ask about important aspects of the job, not holidays or employee perks. Questions about possibilities of gaining extra skills, company culture or the interviewer’s personal experience and impressions of working at this company are a much better fit.
9. You simply failed to sell yourself:
Candidates tend to refrain from boasting about their achievements and that could be a big mistake during a job interview, when they’ve got limited time to demonstrate the skills required for the job.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance – when talking about your successful projects make sure to refer to opinions of others, such as “I have a reputation for delivering my projects on time and within budget”, instead of “I’m the greatest project manager at my company”.
10. You never followed up:
It’s important to follow up the interview with a thank you note – it’s something that will help to set you apart from other candidates interviewed for the job. It’s best to send an e-mail to the recruiter, thanking them for the opportunity and reiterating your interest in the position. This will take you minutes, but can have a great influence on the outcome of your interview.
Author: Monica Wells