The Insider

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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Frequent Interviewing Mistakes Part II

by Kevin T. Buckley, CPC


Frequent Interviewing Mistakes:

In a competitive job market with many people vying for attractive career opportunities, you need to make sure that you avoid making errors that reduce your prospects for getting the job you want.

As recruiters, we see many avoidable situations where otherwise well-qualified people say or do things that end up in them losing the opportunity that they are going for.

Asking About The Salary In The First Meeting:
Never be the first one to bring up the topic of salary in the first meeting. Always let the interviewer do this. Establish the mutual interest level first. Asking about what the company is willing to offer can easily be misinterpreted as being strictly money-motivated or mercenary. Dwelling on the subject will confirm that impression. You can always nudge the interview gently in the direction of the company's offerings by asking obliquely about the company's point of view towards supporting industry education and the costs involved. You can remark about how expensive continuing professional education can be. This at least opens up an area of monetary discussion and the interviewer may then shift the topic to salary. If this doesn't happen, be patient and wait until the subject arises naturally.

Sending An Over-Emotional Follow Up Letter:
If you are sending a follow up letter thanking a person for their time after an interview be very aware of what message you are sending. Sometimes a euphoric feeling can develop when the interview chemistry is strong. You feel that you have to follow up that feeling and tell the interviewer just how much you enjoyed the discussion and that you appreciate their time and interest. There is nothing wrong with doing this. It isn't so much what you say it is how you say it. If your writing style is more emotional than how you speak, have someone who is objective review your message. The basic rule of thumb is keep it short and professional. Some cultures tend to write with more feeling in their correspondence even for business letters. Check your spelling and grammar especially if English is a second language. What may sound respectful to you may sound flowery or over-the-top to a person from another culture.

Asking for Special Hours of Work:
If you go into an initial interview with a personal agenda based on your lifestyle and family needs, and you bring up your preferences in the meeting without being asked, you may talk yourself out of further consideration. You need to be careful here. You can always ask what the company's policy is about their working hours, flexible hours and the shifts that they run. This is simple information gathering and you learn what the company's policies are without having to give them a demand to meet or reject.

Negative Comments About Your Current/Past Employer:
This is a big mistake. Even if you have a legitimate grievance or have been mistreated by a potential employer, it is very important that you not come across as a victim or resentful as these attitudes can be interpreted as a lack of maturity, objectivity or a tendency to hold grudges. If you have experienced a difficult situation such as being downsized or fired, you can be sure that the interviewer will be looking for signs of instability, depression or a person who is unmanageable.

Not Asking Questions About The Job:
The interviewer wants you to be interested in the job, the company and the future you may have with them. Asking intelligent questions about the company's products, services, competitors and plans for the future is made easier by doing research on the internet before you meet. Go to the news or press releases pages on their website and see what's new. Take the time to find out about them. If you have a copy of the job description before you meet, look it over. What is unclear? What do you want to have more information on? Write the questions down and take them with you. Doing this shows you are organized and interested and will make a good impression because a lot of people don't do this.

Complaining and Being A Victim:
Complaining about the conditions you had, how long it took to get to work, the coworkers you had to endure and the boss who wouldn't support you paints you in the interviewer's mind as a problem person. Someone who thinks of themselves as a victim will not be considered as a good team player or  able to handle stress effectively. Employers want to hire people who have a positive approach to their work and who have a sense of  humour. They want someone who blends well with other people and an employee who can raise the morale of the team not lower it.

Appearing Too Eager/Desperate For Job:
There is a fine line between showing strong interest and appearing to be over-eager for the job. The balance starts to be tipped towards the negative when an interviewer or hiring manager starts getting constant calls for status updates or emails seeking feedback. The same holds true for recruiters. If an interviewer tells you that you will be contacted by a certain date and you aren't called by 900 a.m. on that day and you leave a couple of messages or voicemails by 1000a or 1100a that day, you will convey that over-eagerness which can quickly diminish the level of hiring interest. Patience can pay dividends in this situation. Wait at least 24 hours after the deadline before following up and then leave only one voicemail. In your message, simply reiterate your interest in the job and your willingness to make yourself available for further discussion and leave it at that. If there is sufficient interest on the other side, there will be a follow up.

Appearing To Be Too Ambitious:
Hiring managers are cautious with candidates who begin focusing on what the next step in the career progression is in the company instead of discussing the duties and issues of the job being discussed. Spending too much time on what the future may hold and especially discussing how the monetary rewards may increase and then expressing the confidence that you will quickly get to that level can backfire. The interviewer may think you are just using this job as a stepping stone and that you have no real interest in the job under discussion. Being career motivated is a positive quality. Appearing impatient with the time it may take to achieve the job and monetary progress you seek is a negative that may eliminate you from further consideration.

Wandering Away From The Topic Being Discussed:
Interviewers quickly become bored with long-winded explanations and digressions from the subjects that they want to discuss.  Stay focused and don't use 10 words when 5 words will do. Practice your answers with a spouse or friend about relevant aspects of your employment experience. Avoid lengthy and enthusiastic discussions about your personal interests and hobbies. If you have a tendency to speak at length about any given subject, monitor your answers and establish a mental time-limit to answer questions in. Losing or boring  your audience does not generate hiring interest.

Not Asking For The Job:
Many people think that they just have to answer the questions, present their credentials and the employer will automatically choose them because they are the best person for the job. The key point to remember is that you are essentially selling the product that is you. To make the sale you need to close the deal. Ask for the job. Express clearly your interest in the company and the position. Tell the hiring manager that you want to work there. Convince them that they will be getting a motivated, interested and dedicated employee who is willing to work hard and prove themselves. If you don't ask for the job, it may go to someone who does show that interest which links people and companies together for the right reasons.
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