How to win an interview but lose the job
When writing an article to help people achieve a more successful transition, I prefer to focus on positive items. Yet, here’s a case where I want to address some negative topics that could kill your job opportunity, even if you’ve got a stellar resume and provide winning answers during your interview. Of course, the internet is full of all kinds of advice when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of interviewing that often read like commandments: Thou shall not be late; Thou shall not be early; Thou shall be dressed appropriately; Thou shall not check your phone while in an interview; Thou shall not brag excessively, etc.
Here I’m going to assume you already understand those basics. Instead, I am going to cover less obvious items that could derail your chances even though you provided brilliant answers to the interviewer’s questions. Some of these things aren’t just going to cost you the job, but could downright make the interviewer mad.
- Not researching the company. Going into an interview, you want to be as prepared as possible. Unfortunately, too many people focus their preparation on how they are going to answer questions about their experiences but then neglect to research the company. That mistake becomes very apparent when the job candidate gets the opportunity to ask questions but asks trivial questions, the answers to which could easily be found on the company’s website. Doing so tells the interviewer that the applicant must not be all that interested in the job if it wasn’t worth the time to do their homework. Their impression might be that they are actually using the interview as a practice for other interviews that are more important to them. Thus the job candidate is wasting the interviewer’s valuable time.
- Patronizing the interviewer. Obviously, it’s very important to be courteous and thankful that the interviewer devoted time out of their busy day to meet with you. Yet, there are those job candidates who take their gratitude to such an extreme that it becomes overly gratuitous and could come off as disingenuous. This faux pas could also be manifested in another more innocent way. It’s when an interviewer asks you a question and your initial response is to say, ‘thanks, that’s a great question.’ People often innocently respond that way just to be courteous and buy a little time to think of their answer. Meanwhile, the interviewer is thinking, ‘yeah, I know it’s a good question. That’s why I decided to ask it.’
- Not acknowledging receipt of communications. It’s pretty common for an interviewer or a designated representative to send an email to confirm important details such as time or place. Sometimes that email will contain other important information or an update that is meant to be useful to the candidate. Although email is a very reliable means of communication, it’s not perfect. Therefore, it’s still vital to acknowledge receipt and understanding of such correspondence so that the interviewer isn’t worried whether you are tracking the proper information.
- Not respecting other company personnel. Keep in mind that when going into an onsite interview you are likely to meet other people in the organization. The most common of them are usually receptionists and executive assistants. While these individuals are not decision-makers for the job, they are valued employees whose opinions may matter tremendously. A good executive assistant is a confidant to their boss and is on guard to keep that boss from making bad hiring decisions that may make everyone’s life miserable. Therefore, it is critical to treat every person you meet with the utmost respect and courtesy.
- Voicemail issues. This one may be one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s usually a situation where I am trying to call someone, only to hear the ubiquitous “the person you are trying to reach has not set up their voicemail or has a voice mailbox that is full.” I get it. It’s unreasonable for me or an employer to expect that you will be available at all times to receive a call. But it’s of great importance to make it easy for a caller to get information to you as simply as possible, which is to leave a voicemail. Yes, if your voicemail inbox is full, the caller can just as easily text or email you. But doing so requires an extra action on their part, all because of something that you neglected to do.
Keep these tips in mind when you are preparing to interview. Just remember that once you have made it to the interview stage, you have already leaped a big hurdle. Now you are competing on a bigger stage against other very well-qualified people that made the same cut. Sometimes the only differences between you and them are the small things mentioned above.