The interview process should be viewed with data. It is literally this simple: create as many chances for yourself to succeed as possible. Figure out what your “interview win ratio” is. For example, out of 10 phone interviews that are ran, how many of those 10 moved you to the next stage? If the answer is 2, your “interview win ratio” is 1 out of 5. Now you confidently know that you need to line up 5 phone interviews and one of them will most likely succeed! Why should we note this? Reassurance/knowledge backed up by data creates confidence. And that additional boost of confidence can literally be the thing that moves you forward to the next stage. You can also use that data to self assess the situation and figure out if you are doing something wrong.
Each company has a different way of doing things, but most interview processes are very similar. Usually you have a phone screen, some kind of face to face interview, usually in person, a final interview with company leadership, and a decision. Sometimes there are more interviews, and sometimes there are less, depending on factors such as time frame etc.
“But I do a good job getting an interview, but no one seems to want to hire me after the interview!” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Here could be the main reasons why you’re struggling in this area:
You’re not showing the hiring manager you want the job in the phone screen
Why do hiring managers use this method to vette candidates? Because they want to HEAR how you sound. They are looking for clues in your voice that tells them that you are excited, competent, confident and pleasant company to work with. So just be yourself! What if you are naturally introverted, and you are not a confident speaker? Prepare by writing down OPEN ENDED questions in advance. In fact you should have questions prepared whether you believe you are introverted or not. Questions are a great way to engage and initiate conversation. And the hiring manager can use those questions you ask to vette your comprehension and competency of the opportunity. At the end of each interview, your goal should be to get FIRM NEXT STEPS on moving forward. Here’s an example of an exchange at the end of an interview:
Hiring Manager: “Ok, well I think we’ll wrap things here, David, it was a pleasure meeting you. I’ll let you know if we have any additional questions. I’m sure you’ll hear from us soon.”
Candidate: “Right on, Mark, a pleasure meeting you also. Just so I can plan accordingly, it’s currently Monday. Should I expect to hear back from you on next steps in the next couple of days?”
Hiring Manager: “Uh yeah I think that’s fair.”
Candidate: “Ok great! If I don’t hear from you by end of day Thursday, if it’s ok with you I’ll go ahead and reach back out to you on Friday to see where things stand on next steps.”
Hiring Manager: “Absolutely that’s fine!”
In the example, David wasn’t rude, but he set himself up to not be left in limbo by getting a few simple reassurances. At the end of each interview, send the hiring manager a thank you note. Try to include something unique from the conversation that positively stood out to you. A brief thank you note might seem small and insignificant. But remember sometimes the small things you remember to do can be the difference between one person getting the job, and one person getting a rejection letter.
Lack of punctuality and poor appearance
Beside your reasons for being qualified for the job, for this interview the most important things you can control is your punctuality and your appearance. Let’s take these one at a time:
- Punctuality. Being late to an onsite interview can be a disaster, an atom bomb in your progress forward. It’s as simple as miscalculating how much time it takes to get somewhere or taking on too many tasks or errands before the interview. For example:
- not planning your time properly can cause you to rush.
- Rushing can throw off your body language.
- Sending the wrong signals in the interview process can cause you to not vibe with the hiring manager.
- Not vibing with the hiring manager, can cause you to not get the job. See how easy that can happen?
What can I do to be more punctual?
- Try to keep your schedule as clear as possible the day before and the day of the interview so you can properly prepare.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
- I tell candidates all the time, if the interview is a 45 min drive, make sure you get to the location 30 min early (it’s ok to sit in your car or a next door coffee shop for a while.)
- Walk in the door about 7 minutes prior to the interview.
- Make sure you have a GOOD QUALITY NOTEBOOK and a working pen with you.
- Usually onsite interviews are with more than one person. You may not know who interviews you, so be prepared: bring multiple copies of your resume with you.
The wrong appearance can create tension in the interview room on both sides. Things like bad breath, not bathing, or wrinkled clothing can ruin your chances and make you appear like you don’t fit that company’s culture. Where as someone who is clean, fresh, and wearing clothes that fit, can display a level of confidence that allows him or her to move forward to the next stage in the interview process. Here are some things to remember:
- Make sure you have plenty of time to shower/bathe before the interview.
- Get your interview clothes pressed/dry cleaned prior
- Wear clothes that FIT WELL (this almost sounds silly and trivial, but is super important. Sometimes we wear clothes that are a little too tight or don’t fit right. This causes us to be overly self-conscious and that can seep into our body language. You would be surprised at how many job opportunities can be lost by displaying the wrong body language.)
- Depending on the job, it may or may not be appropriate to wear a suit. ALWAYS dress in a way that showcases your BEST PROFESSIONAL SELF.
You didn’t ask any questions
“Great, I think we’ll stop here, unless you have any questions for us?” The absolute worst thing you can say here, is “Nope.” Not having any questions, shows lack of interest in the job!
If you are truly interested in the role, there should be a TON of questions that you have; wanting to know more about the team, what your manager expects from you on a daily basis, what would a career trajectory look like that this company, and so on, and so forth. Instead of trying to think of questions on the spot, write them down ahead of time, when you’re preparing for the interview.
Also, if a question arises from something the hiring manager says during the interview, while you’re taking notes, write down the question so you can reference it later!
You didn’t close the interview
Do you WANT to work at the company you’re interviewing? If the answer is yes, then you have to SHOW them!! SHOW that you want to work there! MAKE THE ASK! Create urgency! Ask questions that show you want to take on the role and move forward! What are things you can say?
Examples of interview closing questions
- “How many other candidates are currently in the running for this position? Right on; and how do I stack up against the other candidates – would you say I’m at the top of the list, the middle or the bottom?” (If at the top or the middle, ask any of the questions that follow. If at the bottom, you screwed up somewhere)
- “What are you looking to see in a candidate that would make this a ‘no brainer’ decision?” (get them to list one or two things, and then show them why you have those same qualities)
- “Do you have any concerns about me being able to do the job?” (a ‘straight to the point’, good question because if they mention reasons why they’re hesitant, you can address them right then and there.)
While some of these items mentioned might seem trivial, addressing them will skyrocket your chances and get you closer to the job you want, not just the job you need.