With 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Recruitment and Staff Development, I‘ve had my share of really bad interviews. I confess, early in my career the bad interview experience could have conceivably been my fault. After all, the interview process can be just as grueling for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee, especially if either are inexperienced, overly nervous or just have poor communication and social skills. But, as I became more experienced, more precise with my questions and more skilled at soliciting critical information without crossing any lines of legality (this takes a great deal of intuitive skill), it became apparent that sometimes…no, most of the time; it’s not me it’s you. Yes, YOU…the ill prepared, inexperienced, unprofessional and inconsiderate job applicant. YOU are the primary reason why you’ve gone on a dozen interviews and were not hired!
Before I move on and explain, let me put in my disclaimer to stave off all the nasty-gram email I am bound to get. The job market is bad and opportunities are few and far in between. There are more job seekers than job opportunities. However, when you are getting interviews but no offers, you must look at yourself more closely. Something could be amiss.
Recently at a round table discussion with several of my HR colleagues, I posed the following question, “assuming all major qualifications are met, what’s the one stand-out thing that makes you think twice, or even disqualify an applicant for hire?” These are the things that make a difference when the playing field between you and another candidate is leveled and now the employer is making character judgments, as a means of finding just the right fit.
Eager to vent and air their pet peeves, my colleagues all chimed in, almost simultaneously. It was like HR harmony as they vocalized their top 5 reasons for not hiring an applicant. It echoed what I’ve personally experienced over the years, and have heard time and time again from employers and recruiters. It’s YOU… and your inability to make a good and convincing impression. This explains why you’ve gone on a dozen interviews and were not hired! Listed below are the top 5 reasons revealed in my informal, unscientific query. Take heed, these are opinions of people who influence and sometimes make the final hiring decision. These are experienced Human Resources Professionals who give weight to these 5 things when deciding who gets hired and who doesn’t.
- YOU ARE DRESSING INAPPROPRIATELY: By inappropriate we mean too much cleavage, or too body conscious. It’s a job interview, dress like you have a clue. Tone down the cleavage. Ok, I get that some people don’t have a suit, and no-one’s saying it has to be Armani, but at least put on a blazer. Please remember that flip- flops are traditionally beach wear, and even if they are embellished with rhinestones, or made from the finest leather, they are not appropriate for a job interview.
- YOU ARE NOT PREPARED: Did you do your homework? Employers are impressed when you know more about the job than what is on the posting. It shows you have a sincere interest in the job and the company. Take what you’ve learned about the company and formulate some questions to ask at the interview.
- YOU CANNOT CLEARLY EXPLAIN YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, GOALS OR POTENTIAL WORTH: This is a key point. So you’ve got skills, but what have you done with those skills which demonstrates your successes? Can you clearly state your goals and align those goals with the company in mind? Worth, in this sense does not mean salary, it means value. What value do you add to the company? What will be your contribution to their bottom line? Know how to express these things and you’re well on your way to your next job or career move.
- YOUR RESUME DOES NOT SUPPORT YOUR INTERVIEWING SKILLS: A prime reason to draft your own resume (get the help of a professional if necessary, but know what it says and make sure it accurately reflects your skills and capabilities). When I work with people to re-write their resume, I make sure we do it together, I get their input, and see that the client understands how to present it to employers. Know that the resume is an extension of you and is the first way you are identified by the employer; know it like you know your birth date and social security number.
- YOU’VE FORGOTTEN YOUR MANNERS: Never under estimate the power of being polite and just using a bit of common sense. Confirm your appointment, this shows responsibility and interest. If by some freaky chain of events you are late, call. When you get there, apologize and offer some explanation. Let me be clear, your explanation should be short and simple. Save the melodrama for your friends. Don’t interrupt the interviewer when speaking. It might lead the interviewer to think you have control issues. Lastly, say thank you for the opportunity to interview at the end of the meeting and in your follow-up communication.
Believe it or not, these things can be just as important as your skills. Make one of these faux pas and you may still be a contender. Make a few of these at once, and you’ve earned yourself a standard rejection letter. So the next time you go on an interview and things don’t go well, think about what you could have done differently.
Crystal Cotton is a career development consultant, President of Crystal Clear Connextions, and author of career blogging site, Job Ready, Job Savvy www.JobReadyJobSavvy.Blogspot.com. She specializes in empowering individuals with communication skills necessary to succeed in the workplace and beyond to create meaningful and intentional relationships. Through communication workshops, seminars, and coaching, Crystal helps people connect, influence, create and achieve career goals. Get Better Communication Skills Now at www.BetterCommunicationSkills.com .
Crystal has a Master’s in Public Administration & Human Resources; a Corporate Training Certification from NYU’s School of Professional Studies, and is the Director of Human Resources for a NYC non-profit.
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