You slip into that blazer that says “professional, yet approachable,” print out a copy of your resume and walk confidently into the interview for your dream job. You think it went well, and start dreaming about the day you can put in your two-weeks notice. A few weeks go by before you get the dreaded email: “Thank you for your interest in the position, but we have decided to go with another candidate.”
What went wrong? Could you have done anything differently that would have changed the outcome in your favor?
The truth is, without even realizing it you may have made a handful of mistakes during the interview process that hurt your chances of snagging the job.
Allison Andrade, lead recruiter at Betts Recruiting, sees them all the time. Learn from these mistakes and snag the job — and the salary — you deserve.
1. SHOWING UP UNPREPARED
According to a new CareerBuilder survey conducted by The Harris Poll, half of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good or bad fit for a position. Which means how you present yourself in those initial moments is crucial. And this starts before you even set foot in the building: “Never show up with less than five copies of your printed out resume, you never know who you will meet with,” says Andrade. “Never wear jeans. Even if the company you are interviewing with is casual, that doesn’t give you license to be casual on your interview. And I hope this goes without saying, but do your research on not only the company, but the people you are interviewing with as well.”
Your pre-interview research should include, “the companies [your interviewer has] come from, career progression, mutual connections if they are strong, where they went to school…” says Andrade. “Go one step further and take advantage of all of the social media tools we have and see who they are as a person or if they are a thought leader in that field. Bring it up and ask questions about it.”
And it’s not just your verbal language, but your body language that matters, too. The Harris Poll found the biggest body language mistakes that reflected poorly on the interviewee were: failure to make eye contact, not smiling, playing with something on the table and fidgeting too much in his/her seat and bad posture.
“As prepared as you can be, you will likely get an out-of-the-box question. Answer as direct as possible and don’t dance around it,” says Andrade. “If you don’t know the answer, tell them you need a bit of time to think about it and you will get back to them.” Some of the biggest head scratchers she’s seen thrown at people? “Tell me about a time where you failed and how you recovered and what you learned?” and “Can you teach me something right now?” are two of the toughest to get right. An insider tip from Andrade: “The best answer [to the second question] is to teach them how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and walk them through that.”