It takes more than a sparkling resume to land a job. While that may be what gets you in the door, it’s the interview that can make or break you. But there are still more than a few things that job seekers continue to do that take them out of the running.
First, it’s important to remember interviews are initially all about appearance–physically and communication-wise. You want to appear confident and professional, but one thing you must be clear not to do is reek of desperation, even if you desperately need the job.
“You may be at the end of your rope with regard to your finances. Your rent is overdue, your telephone bills are due, you don’t want to ask your parents for money, you are desperate no doubt, you will do anything to get that job, but that attitude of desperation should not show in the interview,” warned career success coach and leadership development consultant Gia Ganesh. “Nodding along for everything and trying hard to please the interviewer are clear indicators of your desperation. Instead, believe in yourself and remember this is a temporary phase and you will be in a better place soon.”
When heading to an interview, dress like it. Dressing inappropriately will get your resume — and you — tossed in the trash. “I have had people show up inappropriately dressed numerous times, shared life coach and psychologist Nikki Martinez. I had someone show up braless — they needed one — with their hair completely all over the place like they just rolled out of bed. This is a time to be demure, not look like you are going to the club.”
Also, you don’t want to go into an interview “cold.” Before you get to the interview it’s a wise idea to do some research on the company. Imagine getting the interview and not know a thing about the place where you are trying to work. “One big mistake is not knowing the name of the boss/founder/CEO,” said success coach Maria Katrien Heslin, owner of GPS to Success Coaching & Development. “I once interviewed four candidates for a job in the mayor’s office, when I was deputy mayor. I asked them what the mayor’s name was, and only one of the four knew. Guess who got the job?”
Besides not knowing zip about the company where you are interviewing, not being able to ask valid questions is another downfall. “When it’s your turn to ask questions, ask good ones,” explained Artie Lynnworth, author of Tips For Resumes and Interviews, All in One Hour. “Aside from typical questions about goals, expectations, and development opportunities, one key question can be, ‘Based on what you now know about me, do you have any reservations about my being able to do the job that is now vacant?’ If you find out that they think you are overqualified or underqualified, this is your last chance to let them know there is nothing to worry about. You must convince them about your loyalty and initiative to find productive things to do at work, or your ability to learn fast. If you simply say, ‘Thanks, but I don’t really have any questions for you,’ then you’ve missed an important opportunity and likely have left a poor impression of your interest, preparation and enthusiasm for this job.”
It’s okay to be light, friendly, and even a little funny (depending on the type of company) but skip the comedy routine. “Don’t crack jokes,” Ganesh warned. “This is surprisingly a common mistake that people don’t realize they are making. Some people have the tendency to crack jokes when they are nervous. And without doubt, an interview is nerve-wracking for most folks. Cracking jokes to allay your fears is not necessarily is the best move. Not all interviewers will appreciate your sense of humor and may instead be put of by your display of unprofessionalism. That is not to imply that you have to maintain a serious front either. Simply relax and take breathes instead to calm your nerves.”
It may be difficult for you to realize you are giving off a bad first impression, but you can rectify this by doing mock interviews not only with family and friends but also with someone who doesn’t know you very well. Yes, a stranger may actually give you the best interview feedback. “You need to have help from someone you trust to give you feedback about your facial expressions (good eye contact and smile or not connecting and looking worried), body movement (with confidence or tentative) and handshake (firm or wimpy). Keep in mind, when you meet a trusted friend you may be relaxed and thus offer a pleasant first impression. However, when meeting a stranger in a high-stress situation, such as an important interview, you may stiffen up. Find ways to consciously practice greeting strangers,” advised Lynnworth. “Practice your first impressions with strangers.”
It’s important to self evaluate your interviewing skills–after all you do want to get hired. “You may be the perfect candidate and the job may be the perfect match,” explained Ganesh,” but “carelessness and unprofessionalism may snatch that dream job away from you.”