job search

Made it past the phone screen? Avoid these interview killers

In a prior post, I detailed a few things that can get you rejected from consideration in the resume submittal process.

Let’s say you paid attention and avoided any of those potential land mines–and got invited to an onsite interview. Congrats! Now–don’t do the following:

  • Arriving late. This seems simple–but you’d be surprised how many candidates do it. There’s few things that make a recruiter/recruiting coordinator feel more desperate than a candidate who is 5 minutes late and isn’t answering your calls/texts/emails.
  • Talking poorly about your current/prior employer. Some people have legitimate reasons to have grievances against a prior employer; they were hired for one position–and started the job to find out they’d be doing something entirely different. Were moved into a job they didn’t want. Had a manager from hell. Had been told they were a ‘high performer’ and then were laid off the following month. Whatever the circumstance may have been–you have to learn how to speak about it in a constructive way that doesn’t sound like you’re using the interivew to work out your anger/frustration/sorrow/whatever. It immediately makes an interviewer think you’ll do the same in their role.
  • Asking about pay/benefits in the onsite interview. This isn’t the place to negotiate; you should address that question with the recruiter (most recruiters will verify your current/desired salary is in range before you get to this step). It sends a very poor message to the interviewer–that your primary focus is on money, not on the opportunity.
  • Talking too much. Interviews are abnormal situations; we may be very good at what we do–but we’re not good at self-promoting. Therefore, for many people, it causes nervous anxiety. And that can lead to talking too much during the interview. A typical example of this is someone who answers the same question 2 or more times. Take a moment to think through your answer; articulate the answer to the hiring manager; then pause. If they want you to continue or clarify, they’ll ask for it.
  • Being afraid of silence. Our natural inclination in an interview is to fill silences. DON’T DO THIS. You’re giving the interviewer a lot of information which they need to process and think about what follow-up question that may lead to; this may mean they are quiet for a second. As I stated above, the temptation in this scenario is to keep answering the question. That makes you look less confident.
  • Saying too little. I recently had a candidate in for an onsite interview. All of the interviewers in the loop stated that they burned through all of their questions with the candidate in 1/3 the time it took with other candidates we’ve interviewed. Why? The candidate gave very short answers without any examples or explanation. Attempts to draw the candidate out met with no success. Even if this is your normal communication style, it won’t work well in most interviews. Practice interviewing–especially on video–is essential to better understand your native style and how you may need to modify it in order to be successful in a face to face interview.
  • Not doing your homework. I’ve talked a lot about this already so I won’t dive deep here. But if you can’t recall details about the position, don’t know what the company does as a whole or how it’s doing financially, etc–that can be enough to have you judged a No Hire.
  • Not having questions for the interviewers. It’s important that you ask with whom you will be interviewing (name/title) prior to the interview day, and then develop questions unique to each of them. But also plan to improvise–if something comes up during your interview dialogue that you want to follow up on, do it!
  • Not being engaged in the conversation. There’s only one person with whom your attention should be focused 100% during a 1:1 interview; the interviewer. I don’t care if space aliens are landing out the window behind them. If you’re not engaged, it is immediately evident.
  • Having your phone ring during the interview. This happens not infrequently. My recommendation: When you go to the restroom for that final outfit/no food in the teeth/breath check when you arrive, TURN YOUR PHONE OFF. (I shouldn’t have to tell you that answering a call/texting/tweeting/Facebooking during an interview is grossly inappropriate and grounds for immediately ending an interview loop, should I?)


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