It is often amazing how people can mess up interviews, despite their best intentions and preparation. Having been on the interviewer side often, I saw people who undermine their chances of getting the job by missing out on basic interviewing skills.
Interviewing certainly takes practice. But interviews are also different, and you must be quick to pick the tone and style of the interview as you walk in and be ready to react appropriately.
You also need to know what major mistakes that can cost you the job. Here are a few.
Desperate for a job
In many competitive markets, hiring managers want to hire successful candidates. Their first choice will be to headhunt someone from a competitor. But even if they don’t go that far, they would try to hire the best.
If you have been in the job market for a while, you may appear to be unemployable. You simply will have to make very good for why you were not able to land a job. And it gets more complicated if you are never invited to an interview.
But if you get invited to an interview, be sure you don’t go on and on about the difficulty of landing a job. Don’t lie, but also don’t get out of your way to showcase your struggles. If you have done some consulting or freelance work during your unemployment, present it to prove your willingness to keep busy and find work.
Less than interested
Just being at the interview means you’re interested. But there are different levels of interest and enthusiasm for job. You need to rank high, because employers want to hire people who want to do this particular job, willing to invest the time and effort to grow, and will be happy with the job enough to stick around for the long haul.
If you play it too cool in the interview to the extent that you appear uninterested, you might not hear back from the employer even if you’re qualified. Someone who is less experienced, but shows a higher ability to engage may jump ahead of you.
Set in your own ways
There is a thin line between being proud of your past accomplishments and past employers, and being set in your own way. Hiring managers get alarmed when someone seems unable to adopt new processes and procedures.
Especially if you have work with one employer or one system for a very long time, make sure you show openness and flexibility. The same goes for conversations and questions. For example, if an interviewer challenges you on one of your answer, you can counter back without getting into an argument. Because you’re the interviewee, you must keep calm and try not get the other person’s point.
Lacking career vision
Questions like where you want to be in five years, or why you want this job are meant to understand how you think of your career and future advancement. If you appear to be professionally unmotivated, you may be risking your chances of getting the job.
Unmotivated answers could be staying with the same job without any sort of change or development. Sticking with the employer — and the job — is fine, but you must show what skills you will grow, what learning you will acquire and toward which goal.
You also can appear to be unmotivated if you consistently dodge questions that explore your professional development goals. Even if all you’re looking for now is a new job, try to have a scenario in mind that makes perfect sense for where you’re professionally.
You wouldn’t hire yourself
You can’t sell someone something you don’t believe in. If you appear to be unsure about your skills, hiring managers will pick on this immediately. You will appear to be unfit even if your skills check all the boxes.
You may also appear culturally unfit for the company if you explicitly criticise what you see. Any statement that is negative about the interviewers, the location, the office environment or the like can adversely impact your chances of getting the job. It is safer to just stay positive, and focus on getting the job rather than commenting on what you see.
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
Don’t make these mistakes
Looking desperate for a job
Having no professional advancement goals
Uncertain of your skills