I’ve interviewed hundreds of
job candidates. Going into an interview, I want the interviewee to
get the job, to be ‘the one’. But the law of averages says that’s
unlikely. Most candidates make the same mistakes:
want A job not, THIS job – Particularly in the current economic
climate, candidates just want a position, any position. If you
can’t answer why you want to work for this company in this particular
role, and are the best person to do that, save yourself the bother of
applying. Contrary to what you may think, it’s not a numbers game. You
don’t marry just anyone with a pulse, so don’t apply to just any company
with a payroll. As an employer, I want to know why you are the only
person who can do the job.
They don’t know what we do –
You have to do your research into the company, its positioning,
competitors, challenges, financials, recent news. For instance, in my
sector, you have to know the difference between PR and advertising. I’m
sure there are similar fundamentals in other areas which scream lack of
research. It’s hard to take a candidate seriously who hasn’t put in a
few hours getting the fundamentals down.
They mess up the
basics – Turn up on time, wear a clean suit, bring an up-to-date
resume which is free of typos, don’t smell (e.g. of smoke or attack
perfume), brush your hair, have clean shoes, don’t wear too much make-up
(especially guys!) or show too much cleavage (guys!!), don’t sweat
profusely, or in any way give a first impression which is not the one
you intend. Your apparel and punctuality should not be noticeable. You
should be what we notice.
They’re dull – Companies want to
hire fascinating, engaged and exciting people. The ones who ooze
potential. So don’t bore your interviewer with trivial accomplishments,
bland perspectives, wrote answers or lengthy diatribes. Be different. I
often ask myself – would I want to get trapped in an elevator with this
person? If I can’t imagine inviting them home for dinner or going to a
bar with them, they’re probably not the right fit. Keep your answers
short, laugh your way through the interview, be yourself. This is
supposed to be you at your sparkling best.
– During an interview the BS radar is on full alert and pointed
directly at you. So just be honest. By all means, highlight your
accomplishments but don’t claim abilities which you don’t possess.
Honesty and humility are far more important than supposed superpowers.
And don’t forget, if you get the job, and your track record is a
fabrication, we’ll find out. Start the relationship on a solid foundation –
in many ways it’s better to underplay your role and then over deliver
when you get the job.