As a professional job search coach, I often get a call that starts out, “I need a new resume. The one I have is not working. I have gone on five interviews in the past two months and not gotten one offer”. My first thought is there is nothing wrong with the resume. Rather, the caller has spent hours working with his resume writer developing a strong accomplishment based resume, additional hours networking and applying for a job, but not spent the time necessary to adequately prepare for each interview. To confirm my suspicion, I ask two questions: “Is your resume accurate? Have you understated or overstated your accomplishments and qualifications?” If the answers are “No”, I let the caller know there is probably nothing wrong with his resume. It is time to focus on improving his interviewing skills.
Ask any recruiter or hiring manager and they will share tales of disastrous interviews they have endured. Interviews where the interviewees probably think they are doing an excellent job. These same job seekers are surprised to learn they were not selected for the position. They call the Human Resource Department or person who interviewed them, asking for an explanation. Existing company policies and regulations often restrict the feedback a company employee can provide, so the unsuccessful job seeker may be told, “We had a large number of candidates, the decision was difficult, we selected a candidate whose skills and abilities more closely matched those required by the job”. The answer the company representative would like to provide is the interviewee did not make a good impression or successfully convey the accomplishments and enthusiasm that would have increased their chances of securing a job offer.
A hiring manager may not be willing to give you feedback, but with some honest reflection on what happened during an interview, you can evaluate your performance by asking yourself these questions:
- Were you prepared to discuss the company’s products, services, and market challenges?
- Did you incorporate examples of your experience and skills when you responded to questions?
- Did you dress and present yourself like a top candidate?
- Did you understand what the employer was looking for before the interview?
- Did you ask questions that showed interest in the job?
- Did you give a strong closing statement at the end of the interview?
Does all this sound like too much work? Not for candidates who get job offers. In preparation for your next interview, try reviewing your resume and the job description to develop a list of 20 questions an interviewer might ask. Develop well thought out answers to each question and practice them aloud. Ask a friend or colleague to critique what you plan to wear to your next interview, your handshake, and self-introduction. Spend as much, if not more, time preparing for interviews as you do applying and networking for the next opportunity to interview.