According to CNN, 2013 ended with the weakest job growth since January 2011. With a job market that is still struggling to recover from the turmoil of the past decade, many hopeful job-seekers are applying to multiple jobs daily. As these applicants can attest, only a fraction of the jobs that they have applied for actually respond and even less result in an interview. To an applicant, the interview is one step closer to landing the job that they really want. However, even after polishing their resumés and selecting the most impressive outfit in their closets, some applicants just seem to fall short during the interview. Although the most common mistakes in an interview are a result of thoughtlessness, they can be avoided with some minor preparation.
Janine Truitt, the Chief Innovations Officer of Talent Think Innovations- a management consulting firm- provided some insight on interview questions that applicants tend to bomb. One major question that consistently returns a poor answer is related to the applicant’s past/current employer. Truitt gave an example of this with the question, “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Truitt acknowledged that this simple question can be the start of the end for some candidates.
“I have had varied answers to this, but the ones that trouble me or a hiring manager is when the candidate spends an inordinate amount of time bashing or telling us dirty secrets that led to their departure,” explains Truitt.
This same warning was given by writer and co-founder of Haul Studios, Molly Cain in the July 2013 article, “7 Ways To Fail A Job Interview,” which appeared on Forbes.com.
“I’ll tell you the real reason why I don’t want to hear someone talk bad about their last company. Because that person could have had one bad experience that jaded them- perhaps it was actually a great company and that particular person screwed up and was fired. Whatever the reason, I’m hearing a preview of how that person translates their bad work experiences around town,” wrote Cain.
Truitt suggests that if an applicant did have a bad experience at another company, they present it in a more positive manner in the interview.
“With interviews, the key is to reframe negative experiences without lying. You can simply say the company has changed direction and your values and goals are no longer in alignment with them,” she advises.
In her article, Cain also mentioned that lying and bad manners are two other reasons candidates get turned away. Lying during an interview, specifically about employment history, lets employers know one thing right away- this person can not be trusted. Needless to say that is an automatic disqualification. Bad manners can include chewing gum during an interview, arriving late and not dressing to impress. All of these things convey an appearance of unprofessionalism and are a big no-no to interviewers.
Stacia Pierce, the CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises, weighed in on why she believes applicants answer questions poorly. Pierce indicated lack of preparation, lack of confidence and lack of clarity in what the applicant has to offer as the three main reasons why candidates are ill-equipped when they enter an interview. Pierce’s advice? Do your research.
“Review the company website. Read the ‘about’ section. Know who the company’s CEO is. Research the department you are applying for. Think about how you can add value to the company,” advises Pierce.
Pierce’s other key tips for acing the interview are to keep it positive, be clear and concise, maintain good posture and eye contact, and again, no mudslinging.
Although every company has their own expectations and nuances, there are some definite signs that nearly all employers watch out for. In today’s job market, an applicant’s qualifications and experience may only get them so far. The interview is where the deal closing happens and preparation can make the difference between a regret letter and a phone call asking the prospect to start on Monday morning.