You are doing everything right on your job search and are landing interviews – congrats! The thing is though, you aren’t getting job offers.. Why not? Maybe you just need to brush up on your interview skills.
After all, this isn’t something we do on a regular basis. There is lots of information out there on what we should do in an interview, but how about what we shouldn’t do? Let’s dive in. Here are some interview faux pas that might prevent you from getting a job offer:
1. Not researching the company before you go
This is probably the #1 complaint of all hiring managers. If you don’t take time to research the company of interest, you’re signaling to the hiring manager that you just want a paycheck and somewhere to hang out for now. It indicates you are not serious about the opportunity and you won’t really add value to the organization.
Take time to research the company and educate yourself on what they do, what they sell, what their goals are, what their position is in the marketplace, how many offices they have, who is on their leadership team, and how they differentiate in their market.
If they have a career site, what does it say about their culture, their mission and vision? Invest some time in learning about the company you might be working for. If you don’t take this step, maybe you should think about why you applied in the first place. Be curious about the company. Envision yourself working there and how you’ll add value. Ask yourself, why am I interested in working here? What do I hope to achieve in working here?
2. Not bringing your resume to the interview
Yes, this sounds so low-tech, however, most hiring managers will refer to your resume as a talking point. Often, the hiring manager has just run out of another meeting and might not have had a chance to print out your resume on the way. This can delay things, and it’s potentially a bit of an embarrassment for them. Make it easy for the hiring manager by having your resume and any references on hand, as well as multiple copies, just in case you wind up in a group interview.
3. Dressing too casually
Okay, we really shouldn’t be talking about this anymore, we’re all adults here, but hey, surprisingly, this is still a top knock out for a candidate not moving forward. Always aim to be professionally dressed. Dressing for the bar, the game, or the beach won’t cut it. First impressions matter here. If you’re not sure what to wear, there are lots of examples on Google! There are studies that say dressing well positively affects your work performance and productivity. Dressing professionally can also make you feel more confident in an interview.
4. Not being organized
Walking in with your papers falling out of a coffee stained folder or worn out bag while searching for a pen as your phone beeps will ensure your interview will be short and sweet. Arrange everything you’re going to bring with you the night before. Make sure your portfolio, purse or laptop bag is in good shape with no rips, stains or obvious wear and tear. Borrow one from a friend if yours has seen better days.
Do have a clean, professional notebook and pen ready to take out to jot down notes. Also, be sure your cell is on silent and stored away. Being well organized in the interview demonstrates your organizational skills on the job. You have an excellent opportunity to shine here, and really, it’s such an easy thing to do.
5. Arrive way too early or late
The hiring manager has a ton of important tasks they are responsible for in their calendar. If you show up an hour or even 30 minutes early, it can throw them off their workflow. Conversely, you’re definitely limiting your chances by showing up late. It demonstrates that you will be late for work and are disorganized or just don’t care. If you are sick, let the hiring manager know, even if it may not move you forward with it being their only day for interviews. This is bad luck and sometimes we just have to move on.
So what’s the best time for showing up to your interview?
Arrive 10 minutes before your interview. That’s it! You allow the interviewer just the right amount of time to complete their current task and give your resume another scan and prepare themselves for your interview. They will be thankful that you respected their time.
6. Being too casual, over-familiar and not being yourself
The most important thing in the interview is to be yourself. Be professional. Of course, badmouthing your previous employer is not a good idea, as is telling your entire life story or being overly familiar. Keep your interview on the high road, professional, courteous, knowledgeable, well prepared and thoughtful. The hiring manager wants to review your work experience in more detail and they are also looking for clues into how you will fit with their culture and team. Sometimes, we just don’t connect with people and that’s okay. You want to work somewhere where you feel happy and connected to the team.
7. Don’t have any questions
You have done everything right so far – you showed up on time, you were well prepared, dressed professionally, researched the company, answered questions well and now here is your chance to shine, stand out from the competition and move yourself into 1st place! Have a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 well thought out questions ready to go.
Ask questions that refer to the company and its growth. Questions like:
- “What are some the key initiatives I can do to add value to the company?”
- “What is the leadership culture here and workplace expectations?”
- “What are some of the key initiatives the company is tracking to achieve this year and how would my role fit into this?”
- “I read an article that the company has launched this great new product, would my role play a part in ensuring its successful implementation?” “If so, what would that look like?”
Thoughtful, big picture questions are so rare and so awesome. You are signaling that you care about the company and its future, you are creative and smart, you respect the brand and you are already showing initiative.
8. Not being selective of your interviews
Some advice is to go on interviews to practice your interview skills. With so much available on the web today, you can practice at home with a friend. Job search can be soul crushing, we know. However, why add undue pressure on yourself going for an interview when you have no intention of taking the job?
Your time and energy is important, so be purposeful and selective as to where you send your resume to and what companies you interview with. If you “send and pray” your resume everywhere, especially to jobs you have no skills for or a company you don’t want to work for, you’re really wasting your time. You are going to find yourself being busy and interviewing at jobs you simply don’t want.
You might just hear back from the company you do want to work for and you have already booked an interview with a company you don’t want to work for. Now you’re in a pickle and want to cancel the first interview and you might burn a bridge. It’s okay to be picky and it’s okay to politely decline an interview invitation, as it’s better to narrow your focus and only apply to jobs you want and can do.
9. Want to move up or out too quickly
You are being interviewed for a specific job a company needs to get done. If you are too eager to skip over this job, why should the company invest in you? There are costs to hiring you, training costs, lost productivity costs, management time costs and more. You are signally to the company that you are a flight risk because you want to move on too quickly and won’t hesitate to leave for another opportunity. It’s better to decline an interview than interview with a company for a job you have no intention of putting time into.
10. Don’t follow up or say thank you
96% of candidates don’t say thank you to anyone in the hiring process. That’s a high stat, and just think, if the hiring manager is having a tough time deciding between you and another candidate and they receive a thank you note or email from you, guess what? You could definitely swing the vote in your favour.
Sending a thank you indicates to the hiring manager that you are interested in the job. It gives you an opportunity to stand out from the competition. We all do enjoy being thanked now and again. Actually, it’s one of the key engagement indicators for employee engagement – saying thank you for a job well done.
So easy to do and so rarely done. If anything, the hiring manager will remember you and might invite you to connect on Linkedin for future opportunities. A door opened is better than a door closed. Send a brief thank you email or post an old fashioned thank you note in the mail. It will probably be the only piece of mail the hiring manager will get all week. Now go get hired!