A common question I get from people entering the workforce is “How can I nail a job interview that will turn into an offer?” It’s simpler to answer that question in reverse with three things that ensure you are NOT likely to get an offer.
The first thing you should consider about interviewing is that it’s a time commitment on both sides. Think about the person interviewing you. They have plenty of other things going on in their day that they put aside to spend focused time with you.
Here are some things you can do that will be sure to end in no offer.
Slacking on the follow-up
I think a common misconception here is that you don’t want to be an annoyance to the person who is interviewing you by adding more to their inbox, but a quick ‘thank you’ note is a must. One, it shows you’re a considerate person who doesn’t live in a make-believe world that only consists of you in it. And two, it acknowledges that you appreciate the interviewer’s time and that in itself shows organizational empathy and good manners. I always make a mental note of whether or not someone has followed up with me. My requirements aren’t steep – a simple email will suffice. But the more thoughtful the better, and by thoughtful I mean referencing something we discussed or asking a question that indicates you’re really contemplating the opportunity. PS, I’m personally a sucker for a handwritten note. It’s not necessary, but boy does it make a candidate stand out.
Knowing nothing about the interviewer
A job interview isn’t a first date. You’re not going to an interview to get to know someone — you’re going to sell yourself on why you’re the best possible candidate for the available position. So treat it like that. Do a quick Google search and take a look at the interviewer’s Linkedin profile. If the interviewer sees that you’ve viewed their profile, they are sure to appreciate your effort in doing your due diligence. If they have a blog, read it. If they’ve been interviewed in the media, check it out. It will likely give you some good things to bring up during your interview. Writing a cover letter? Don’t address it “Dear Sir or Madam.” A quick browse on the company's website will give you an idea of who your potential boss will be — address your cover letter accordingly.
Being too honest
Sure, most of the time when you’re seeking employment elsewhere it’s because you’re no longer happy in your current position. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, ever badmouth your current or previous employer. There is no upside to this. Ever. Nine times out of 10 your interviewer will ask you why you’re leaving your current position, most likely to just see how you will answer — so, during your interview prep, plan for this to come up and create the talk track that is honest but discreet. Rather than pouring your heart out about mistreatment or lack of structure or whatever your organizational beef, find a way to thoughtfully address why you’re interested in the opportunity and how it builds on your experience with your current employer.
Let’s be honest, it takes someone special to actually enjoy the interviewing process, from both sides. But once you figure out how to navigate one interview, all you need to do is apply those tactics to the next and you’ll be sure to land that dream job in no time.