For the purpose of this post, let’s assume you made it through a phone screen. This is important to note because it means the employer liked what they saw on your resume and you probably met most (if not all) of the requirements for the job. With that in mind, we’re going to focus on what happened during the next step, the in person interview and why you received the “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Let’s face it, interviews are tough. There are many variables that come into play. Whether you’re meeting with one person, a group of 7 or need to make it through staggered rounds of different teams, all it takes is one person to sink you. Let’s discuss some of the things that can go wrong so you can better prepare yourself and land that next interview.
· You were late – Don’t let this happen. Even if you have to sit in your car for 30 minutes before your interview, leave early to ensure you’re timely. There’s nothing worse than making a busy hiring manager wait for you.
· You weren’t a good fit – This is one I hear often and is typically reserved as a catchall. It usually means you rubbed someone the wrong way for one reason or another. Some common reasons are: simple personality mismatch, appearance, over confident, not enthusiastic enough, too demanding about what you need.
· Connections – It’s all about who you know. There’s a possibility that someone else had an in. With social networking becoming such a large part of our daily lives, this is something you should use to your advantage. By simply establishing a connection through these networks prior to your interview, it helps build a relationship and gets you one step closer to having your own “in”.
· Change of direction – Often times, clients think they know what they need until it’s right in front of them. Only then do they realize that’s not it at all. If this is the case, don’t sweat it – it was nothing you did or could have avoided. Don’t be shy in communicating your experiences and skills that could fit what they’re now looking for. If delivered properly, you’ve positioned yourself as a strong candidate for the new role.
· You weren’t prepared – I can’t stress this enough. Spend time getting to understand who you’ll be meeting with, and their role and responsibilities. If you have a solid background of the company and the individuals, you can tailor your questions to be relevant. Once they feel like you “get it”, you’ve elevated yourself above the competition. Make yourself look good: do your research and ask smart questions.
· Did you close the deal? – Interviews can often times end abruptly and awkwardly, but they don’t have to! As you see things starting to wind down, see if they have any other questions. Ask if they have any concerns about your background that you can address, and most importantly, be sure to close with why you feel like you’re a good match. Take some of your research combined with what you uncovered with your “smart” questions and leverage your background to show clear examples of why you’d be strong for it.
· Follow up – This is something that’s often overlooked. Get their business cards and send a thoughtful thank you email or handwritten note. Don’t overdo it, keep it short, sweet and gracious. Any fluff will immediately be transparent.
And no matter what, don’t take it personally – interviews are hard. From a limp handshake, to too much perfume/cologne, many things can go wrong. In my opinion, focus on being the right fit. This is one you can work on prior, during and even after the interview. Since managers are more likely to hire candidates they relate to, this should be a point of emphasis for you to nail that next job!