We’ve all had this experience.
You land an interview for a job you really want. You get all dressed up, put on your best professional face, and really put yourself out there during the interview. Afterwards, as you walk out, you have one overriding sensation. Nailed it!
And yet, days go by without any word from the employer. The days become weeks and suddenly you hear that the position you so coveted has been filled. By someone else.
What went wrong? How could you miss out on a job after having such a good experience at the interview? Lamentably, far too many of us make mistakes in interviews that are so subtle, we might not even know we messed up. Mistakes that derailed the interview and doomed your prospects.
Here are the top nine reasons why hiring managers may have crossed your name off the list of top candidates:
- It may seem incredibly obvious, but you won’t get hired if you bad-mouth your previous employer. Or, even worse, if you say nasty things about your previous boss. You may think that you’re demonstrating how motivated you are to find a new job. Prospective employers will think that you’re hard to please and have a tendency to be disloyal. Stay professional and take the high road when discussing your previous experience and managers.
- You won’t get hired if you tell a fib, even a small one. If a hiring manager finds any inaccurate or even overblown information in your resume, particularly if you embellish your roles or responsibilities at your former employers, they will immediately lose all trust in you.
- It is likely you will be asked at some point in the interview, “What do you know about us?” if your answers show that you know little about their organization, or are unfamiliar with their products or services, it will immediately throw up a red flag. In this digital age, it doesn’t take a lot of work to find out the basics about a prospective employer. Compiling a profile of the employer shows you are motivated. Go in uninformed about who they are and what they do, they will think you are lazy or careless.
- If the issues of ethics or values comes up during the interview, be definitive. If you equivocate or hesitate when you’re being asked to firmly defend your values, you will not get hired. Truly ethical people are in high demand right now. Anything you say that implies your ethics are elastic or that basic professional values are not important to you will kill your job prospects.
- It’s likely you will be asked, ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ If you cannot state clearly why you want to work for the organization interviewing you, or if the reason you give is vague or fuzzy (or purely financial), you will not get hired. People who are passionate about what they do and who express a specific desire to work for a specific company, are always in demand. If you come across as apathetic, the employer will think you are hard to motivate. They need to see enthusiasm when you talk about coming on board.
- Many hiring managers will ask you what you like to read. If you answer that you do not like to read, or cannot cite specific periodicals or books, they may assume that you are lazy or incapable of delving further and deeper in search for answers to important questions about business and life. How can you solve problems if you do not value knowledge, or if you have no interest in seeking knowledge?
- If they ask you to list your flaws or weaknesses, and you say that you do not have any or that you do not know what they are, you will not get hired. Hiring managers want employees who can demonstrate self-awareness, and who are always looking for ways to improve themselves. If you come across as arrogant, or imply that you think you are perfect, you will never fit in with any team.
- If you are asked about mistakes you have made and, instead of accepting them and talking about what you learned from them, you make excuses, you will not get hired. Prospective employers do not want you justify or excuse mistakes. They want to see that you have the maturity to accept your shortcomings and take responsibility for the consequences. This will demonstrate that you are honest and willing to learn from those mistakes.
- If you cannot list your achievements and contributions to your former employers, hiring managers may find it hard to calculate the value you can bring to their organizations. Conversely, if you take credit for everything good that happened while you worked for someone else, you may cause some people to think that you are prone to exaggeration or take credit for things that other people did.
Competition for good jobs has never been as fierce as it is today. Those candidates who continue to fall into the same, self-destructive mistakes in the application or interview process will find themselves constantly on the outside of good jobs looking in.
Be open, be honest and focus on being the kind of person that no hiring manager could ignore.