The New England Patriots had the ball at their own yard line with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Superbowl XLVI. The New York Giants were biting nails because mere four point lead is never safe when Tom Brady has the ball in his hands. After all, Brady was no stranger to come from behind victories.
Fortunately for the Giants, it didn’t work out for the Pats. Brady’s final pass was deflected and the ball bounced on the ground but bounced nowhere nearly as high as the hopes of those residing in the City of Boston.
Job interviews are like trying to get throw that winning touchdown during a playoff game. Just like football teams trudge through the regular season collecting wins and overcoming adversity for a chance to make the playoffs, job seekers who have reached this stage have already passed a few hurdles to get where they are. Being invited to a job interview is to make the playoffs and a false step can knock their candidacy from the running and they must take steps to ensure that they do not fumble the ball with the goal line in sight.
They are many ways to create turnovers during a job interview. The most common ones include being late, dressing inappropriately or forgetting to bring a list of references. While these embarrassing missteps don’t reflect well, job candidates have been known to overcome them win the job. However, some mistakes are just as fatal to a job seeker’s candidacy as throwing an interception when time is running out of the game.
Not Doing the Homework
One of the first things that I explored while interviewing job candidates is their knowledge about the company that I represented. Surprisingly, candidates tends tend to know very little about the company that they applied. There is no excuse for not having checked the company website to gain some knowledge about the organization and products. No one as
ks job candidates to memorize the names of the executive management team. However, demonstrating an understanding about what the company does and how it’s structured demonstrates a real interests in joining the team.
Blabbing through the Interview
During the average interview, a job candidate does most of the talking but being too eager does hurt. It can come across as sales pitch rather than a conversation. I once had an interviewee describe how much she loved dogs and her mothers
Doberman breeding business despite that it had nothing to do with the job that she applied. Job candidates can do well to focus on describing how well he or she has preformed the work with a previous employer because the recruiters are not interested in a life story.
Being nervous during an interview is natural because such conversations are inherently provoke anxiety. it’s also natural to lose focus when describing experience because the mind is split between describing and monitoring the interviewer reaction. During interviews, I’ve seen many candidates talk for long periods without actually answering the question that I asked. Job candidates can avoid this by ensuring they understand what the interviewer seeks to learn from the answer, come up with an appropriate example and then delivering it in a concise manner.
Very few job seekers have perfect records. Recruiters have seen many candidates with spots on their resumes. The way job candidates can overcome this is the take accountability for the situation as honestly, accurately as possible but don’t dwell on it. The worse thing a candidate can do is avoid accountability of the experience. Heck, I was once fired for tearing the roof off an elevator. However, I don’t waste my time explaining that the shop owner didn’t provide elevator operator training. My description of that experience is, instead, usually “I was young and inexperienced at the time”.
Going for the Hail Mary Pass
Asking about start dates, vacation benefits, salary and employment related items will kill a job candidate’s chance faster than it takes to walk out the door. Not only is the interviewer not yet as the stage to start talking about these issues, it comes across as being to either arrogant, eager or needy. One candidate that I referred to a hiring manager had a great interview but fumbled at the door by tossing out his salary request as his hand grabbed the door knob. His application file came back to me with feedback with “solid candidate but too eager”. Job candidates should have a game plan that includes promoting their experience and learning more about the role. They need to stay with this game plan through the entire interview and all the way home no matter how well the session went. The only time to start talking about salary and start dates is when someone says “we would like to offer the position to you”.