I’ve had to hire team members for multiple roles over the years, and here are a few things I’ve learned from being on this side of the table that I didn’t know when I was a candidate applying for jobs.
When an employer invites you to interview for a job, they already think you’re qualified. Your resume and cover letter, job application or online profile have already told them that you have the skills, education and experience that they are looking for. If there is a phone interview, that is to pre-screen for these core skills before meeting you in person.
There’s a good chance job is yours to lose
Because they need someone with your abilities, and the hiring process is taking up valuable time from their regular duties, hiring managers usually come into the face-to-face interview wanting to give you the job. Your challenge is to not change their minds.
Employers want to like you as a person
Since they already think you have the skills, and they want to hire you, what are most employers looking for in an interview? Frankly, they want to know if they like you and if you’re going to fit in with the team. Once they hire you, you become someone they will have to see and speak to every day at work. They often end up spending more time with you than they do with their family or friends. So likeability really matters.
This is why coming up with clichéd answers to standard questions won’t work. If you say that your biggest flaw is that you’re a ‘perfectionist workaholic,’ the interviewer won’t learn anything about the real you, and may be annoyed by your lack of sincerity.
Be personable, and talk in a friendly, conversational manner rather than simply quoting rehearsed answers. Try to build rapport with the interviewer.
Your looks really matter
How you look may determine whether or not you get the job. If you are dressed too casually, you may appear unprofessional or not serious about the role. If the company culture, or the hiring manager specifically has issues with multiple piercings, visible tattoos or odd facial hair, these may cost you the gig. If you appear nervous, sweaty and easily flustered, they might assume that you are not up for the job.
Dress up, wear clothes that are just a touch more formal than required on the day-to-day of the job. Arrive a little early so that you don’t have to run to make it on time, and be at your calm and confident best.
You can be too eager for the role
While employers prefer candidates who are enthusiastic about working for them specifically, it is possible to be too enthusiastic.
Being overly needy makes you look bad and lowers your value as a potential hire. For example, if you’re currently employed and you tell your interviewer that you could start work right away, this could hurt your chances. It indicates that you’re willing to make an unprofessional exit from your present job by leaving them hanging with no notice. Is that the kind of person they would want on their team?
Although it’s good to send a thank-you note after an interview, too much follow-up can kill your chances. Calling or emailing multiple times to check up on the status of your application will make you look desperate and will likely get on the employer’s nerves.
The timing isn’t fair
The rules of timing are not the same for employers and candidates. The employer can take as long as they need to call you for an interview after your application, to follow up with you after an interview and to make you an offer. This process almost always takes longer than they think it will for a myriad of behind-the-scenes reasons at the company. So when the employer says they’ll make a decision by the end of the week, it may take up to a month.
On the other hand, if you’re asked to send in references or samples of your work the next day. Do it the next day. Candidates have to be on time and true to their word. Also, you can wait too long to respond to a job offer. If you’re waiting to hear from another company or using the offer to renegotiate with your current job, it can be rescinded. Employers are hiring because they have a talent gap. They need the help and don’t have time for candidates who string them along. Job offers come with expiration dates.
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