Why is it that the single most important moment of your job search has the most avoidable mistakes that prevent you from winning the job? There are more resources on the web and in the book store about job interviewing techniques, pitfalls and tricks, yet I continue to be shocked and dismayed at the performance in interviews. Yes, it is a performance, and a very critical one. No, I’m not saying you need to act or be someone you are not. Quite the opposite. You need to be the most “prepared-to-interview” example of yourself.
Understand what Interviews are For: The interviewer is not just listening to your answers. They are examining your behaviors and comparing them to their vision of the “ideal candidate.” From your hand shake to your interview closing to your follow up…all of it matters. They are watching you to see if the skills you exhibit in the interview are close to what they need in the day-to-day job. If you are not prepared, then you won’t be well-prepared for a critical meeting. If you are late with some excuse like “there was an accident on the highway” then you will be late for work. If you don’t make eye contact, then you won’t make eye contact with peers and customers. You get it.
So it’s important to know what to do and what NOT to do every step of the way. In this short space, I’m going to share the most common pitfalls that interviewers fall into so you can, at least, recognize when you are heading to the edge of the cliff:
#1 Being Late. This includes phone meetings, informational meetings, or the first interview of the day. Rule: if you are not ready by the phone or in the waiting room by 30 minutes prior to the start time, then you are late. When you are late, the perception the interviewer is building is that you are not committed, do not have good time-management skills, and you would be late to meetings once hired.
#2 Being Unprepared. Two areas are key: (1) Prepare for the questions, bring good questions and (2) Bring the right things to the meeting. Rule: Always bring printed copies of your resume and cover letter and the job description. Always bring paper and 2 pens (back-up). When you are unprepared the perception created is that you did not take the time to research their company, the job, you have no insightful questions, and that you might be unprepared for key events once hired.
#3 Having an “Attitude” This comes in many shapes and sizes and can sabotage your entire interview. The most problematic attitudes are egotistical, negative about a prior manager, company or experience, and the victim. The egoist claims to have no weaknesses or gaps in their skills relative to the job, and believes they are the perfect person for the job. The negative interviewer either blames their exit from a prior company on that company or manager’s weakness, or admits to something they don’t like to do in any job. Finally, the victim deflects all accountability, is not self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses and has a good reason why something external was done to them. Rule: Hiring managers and interviewers want to hire happy people. Remember, they are watching if you would be a fit for their existing team and culture.
In summary, change your interviewing approach, stand out and “Cut the Crap, Get a Job”. (pre-order my forthcoming book of the same title here)