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10 Ways to Lose Your Dream Job During the Interview

Wed, Apr 22, 2015

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It’s your dream job and the best company you can imagine.  Your resume is in the door - and from what you can see - you have this on lock.  But the interview is looming in the not-so-distant future.  

Most people interview for a new job at most every few years, so knocking the rust off can take a little forethought.  Even the most experienced, qualified, and sharp people can commit some pretty common faux pas in the process of pursuing a game-changing opportunity.  

Here’s some of the best (or worst depending on your perspective) ways to lose your dream job during the interview:

  1. Badmouthing Current / Prior Employers – It’s not a leap to assume if a candidate is crushing their current or former employer(s) that if hired, someday, they’ll do the same to the company they’re interviewing with.  It would be rare to go a whole career without a job change prompted by a bad or weird experience; but, keep it factual, high level, and don’t dwell on it!
  2. Talking Too Much – We’ve had clients call after an interview, exclaiming in an exhausted, exasperated tone: “intelligent and qualified, but I could NEVER work with this person – they never shut up the whole time!”
  3. Talking Too Little – Yes or No questions are common in interviews; this doesn’t mean a simple yes or no is the best response.  Giving a direct, concise response is good, but supporting your assertion with facts, prior experiences, and knowledge will bolster the answer.  Striking a good balance between talking and listening is important to nailing an interview.
  4. Pretending You Know Stuff You Don’t – This is an absolute killer; when an interviewer asks detailed questions about an area of limited experience and knowledge, stretching and spewing falsities is a great way to get moved to the bottom of the stack.
  5. Swearing – Generating genuine rapport and a reasonable comfort level with the interviewer is important, with the operative word being reasonable.  Cussing during the interview does not fall within the confines of reasonability!
  6. Not Asking Any Questions – In nearly all interviews, there will be the opportunity to ask questions.  Responding that you don’t have any questions generally indicates a lack of interest, preparation, initiative, intellect, or some condemning combination of all.
  7. Being Indecisive and Non-Committal – The whole point of an interview from a candidate's perspective is to sell yourself to the interviewer and put yourself in a position to have the option of moving forward.  To do this, interviewers want to feel as though their job is desirable; concluding the interview without expressing interest in a clear, concise way to the interviewer can put a big roadblock in place.
  8. Presence of Distinct Odors – Sounds ridiculous, but we’ve seen (and smelled) it all.  Too much perfume, cologne or aftershave can be a huge distraction during the interview, and can be a deal breaker.  So too can that last quick cigarette to calm the nerves.
  9. Lack of Follow Up – Sending a thank you email, personalized to each interviewer, is standard practice among candidates looking to impress post-interview.  Want to really wow?  Send a hand-written note. Failing to do either could put chances of a good outcome at risk.
  10. Too Much Follow Up – Keep follow up concise, professional, and don’t ramble!  Seeming desperate by following up too frequently (especially with phone calls) or with too much detail is a surefire way to have a prospective employer running for the hills.

Landing the next step in a career can be an uncomfortable process, and there’s no recipe or one-size-fits-all approach to nail every job interview. The bottom line is simple: candidates need to do everything they can to give themselves the opportunity to move forward in the process.  Avoid the missteps above, and you’ll increase your odds of winning the job you want!


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