Three Ways You’re Doing Interviews Wrong

By Alexandra Hoeflicker / September 20, 2016
bad interview

A job search can be so draining that getting to the interview stage can feel like success in itself. But that feeling quickly fades when you find out you didn’t get the job.

 

We know it’s not much consolation, but the more interviews you go on, the better you’ll be at them. Treat each as an opportunity to become an expert interviewee—even if the conversation doesn’t lead to a job.

 

And when you don’t land the job, how do you know what to change for your next one? It’s likely, if you request information further on it, they won’t get back to you at all. Well, we did the research so you don’t have to.

 

You didn’t know enough about the company.

When actively job searching it’s easy for all your applications to blend together. Which company has 500 employees, which has 50? Which serves the media industry, and which works with tech companies? When you walk into an interview, that should be your sole focus.

 

Sounds nerdy, but create a spreadsheet with every job you apply to. Headings should include: company name, job title, job description (or link), company address, contact person (or department), date applied, follow-up communication, and additional notes.

 

Spend a few days before the interview learning everything you can about the company. What’s the culture like? Company history, notable achievements, any recent news, and check social media for reviews from employees and clients.

 

Try this: Develop a basic understanding of the potential employer’s mission statement to reference during the interview. You will come across well prepared and hopefully win a few extra brownie points. Test yourself beforehand. Can you easily answer the following questions? “What does this company do, what does it want to achieve and how can I help it achieve that?”

 

You didn’t explain how your background has prepared you for the job.

Employers have one thing in mind when they’re hiring: find the candidate who fills a need the company has. Sure, there are many other qualifiers such culture fit, collaboration skills, willingness to learn new trades; but at its core, an interview is about ensuring the employer you can walk in the door on the first day and succeed.

 

Whether you have years of experience or just starting out, when put on the spot to give real-life examples, you can sometimes freeze up and forget you’ve had any training at all. Before the interview brainstorm specific ways your abilities and experiences apply to the job. You don’t want to sound robotic, but having examples on hand will help you confidently answer questions in the moment.

 

Try this: Practice answering all the classic interview questions, writing or typing all the answers. Such as “why do you want to work here,” “what are your greatest strengths,” and “describe a situation when…” After, go back through and edit all the answers that don’t focus on the value you bring to the company, not what you’ll get from the job.

 

You didn’t nail the post-interview follow-up.

An interview doesn’t exactly end when you walk out of the office. Many potential employers will expect a thoughtful, typo-free thank you email within 24-hours of the interview.  But ideally, you should get in good habit of sending one as soon as you are able.

 

Be sure to email each person you met with, even if it was three or four people. Which means making sure you have contact information for all of them before you leave. 

 

And while it’s not necessary, sending the hiring manager a short handwritten note with a few lines with your appreciate for the opportunity and their time will make you stand out from other candidates.

 

Try this: If it’s an email or handwritten note, here are some things to include. Any personal connections you made, did you attend school in the same town? Specific details you discussed about the job itself and a reminder of how you can accomplish those goals. And always close with next steps, “I look forward to hearing from you {insert specific day}!”

 

When you’ve made it to the face-to-face interview, you’re too close to getting that job offer to lose confidence because of unpreparedness. Get comfortable with these strategies and your answers so the next time you interview it can be your last one.


About the author

Alexandra Hoeflicker

Alex spends as much time watching Gilmore Girls as many times as humanly possible, drinking Matcha lattes like it is water, and attempting to be the Van Gogh of Pinterest crafting.

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