Three for Thursday: Interview Fails

We could be doing a Thirty for Thursday and still not cover the variety of ways you can fail an interview. With so many ways to make a mistake, it can be difficult to identify where you went wrong and improve your interviewing skills. Today we are going to look at how it’s possible to leave a poor impression that has nothing to do with your skills or ability to do the job.

Focusing too much on why you’re leaving, rather than what you accomplished.

Often candidates think they need to carefully explain all the reasons they’re trying to leave. Whether it’s because of compensation, being stretched too thin, poor leadership or all of the above, it’s a common mistake to over-explain in hopes that the interviewer will empathize with you. The problem is that you risk coming across as needy, self-serving, or overly negative. Beyond that, every minute you’re taking about why you want to leave is wasted time that could be better spent discussing what makes you a good candidate for the position. You want to explain your reasoning in a succinct manner that gives sufficient information without adding unnecessary details – and always portray the position as a whole in a positive light. It was a great opportunity where I learned a lot and grew as a professional, but ultimately the lack of upward mobility has moved me to focus on looking outside the organization for my next step forward.

Your questions put the interviewer on the defensive.

Asking questions like “What’s your turnover?” or referencing negative publicity can make the hiring manager feel they have to defend their company to you. A better way to ask the question would be to focus on what they do to retain and develop their top performers. This type of questioning positions you as someone who is seeking a company where they can maximize their impact, rather than someone who’s concerned about being fired.

Subtle changes in your messaging can have a big impact on how the interviewer perceives the question. Hiring someone is an emotional decision, and most hiring managers won’t be left with a positive feeling from the interview if they feel they were defending themselves the whole time.

You play hard to get.

This one goes back to hiring being an emotional decision – if the hiring manager doesn’t think you want the job they aren’t going to want to hire you. No employer is going to feel good about hiring someone who considers them a backup choice or last resort. You should be very clear about expressing your interest for the position, show enthusiasm throughout the interview, and push for moving forward in the interview process.