Can’t Get Past the Interview?

Another interview, another rejection. If you continue to get your foot in the door, but can’t seem to get offered a seat at the table, read on.

By the time you’re invited to a face-to-face interview, it’s likely the Hiring Manager has determined that you have the core skills needed to perform the job and your salary requirements are within range. There are probably just a handful of candidates who you’re competing with and the final decision will come down to “fit” – a somewhat ambiguous term loosely defined as having the right mix of skills, personality characteristics, values and goals to be successful.

If you’re getting invited to interviews, but continue to get passed over, it may be worth assessing the following:

  • Attitude:  Being upbeat and enthusiastic is a must.  Avoid speaking negatively about former employers, the competition, or past experiences.  Instead, focus on the positive aspects of how you plan to apply your skills and what you’re looking forward to in the new role.  Also, multiple rejections are enough to make anyone feel down.  Regardless of how many interviews you’ve had, go into each one with excitement and energy, not desperation.
  • Dress: If uncertain, err on the side of overdressing rather than underdressing.  Wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable.  While no one expects you to be a fashionista, pay attention to details like tailoring and hemlines.  How you present yourself speaks volumes.
  • Confidence: If you’re nervous, it will show, so best to address the elephant in the room and move on.  While Interviewers expect you to be a little on edge, excessive anxiousness can overshadow your likability (as can overconfidence).  Admit you’re “excited about this opportunity and feeling a bit nervous.” You may be surprised at how the anxiety dissipates.
  • TMI (too much information):  While being deceptive is never recommended, you also don’t need to give away your deepest secrets.  Prepare for difficult questions so you don’t get caught off guard and babble on.  For example, be ready to speak about a minor weakness or mistake to show you’re human, but don’t reveal your darkest moments.
  • Your story:  If you have the skills and likability, the last factor the Hiring Manager will be interested in is your career story.  Be able to concisely articulate why you want this role and how it fits into your overall career plan.  A bad hire is expensive. Your reason for pursuing the job must be logical to the Interviewer.
  • Questions: The questions you ask are a big part of the evaluation.  Do your research and be prepared with insightful, appropriate questions that demonstrate your knowledge and interest (e.g., “An article in the Financial Times last week discussed the recent acquisition of Telestar Technology.  If I’m hired as Director of IT, how would I participate in this transition?”).  Regardless of how much information you’ve received, always ask questions.
  • Thank you: The assessment isn’t over once you leave the interview.  A well-crafted thank you email can serve to both demonstrate your professionalism and re-sell you as a strong candidate.

In the end, candidates must also assess “fit” during the interview.  Do your due diligence and don’t let your good judgment be overshadowed by a big name company or an opportunity that looks perfect on paper.  Fit goes both ways.

Happy hunting!

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