By Mark Goulston, M.D.
June 19, 2020
Mistakes your interviewer won't tell you
Q: It's now happened three times. I've left a number of interviews for jobs with the interviewer telling me, "Thank you for coming in today. It was a pleasure meeting you and having a chance to learn more about your experience and skills. As you can imagine, we have a number of applicants for the position and we'll be getting back to you." Such parting words aren't encouraging. And as you can imagine since I am writing you, they haven't led to jobs. I'm trying to read what is really on my interviewers' minds, because I believe there is much more going on than meets the eye. I would appreciate any intel to help me crack the code on what my interviewers are really thinking.
A: Even though you'd think companies want to hire people if they are interviewing, the truth is that it's safer for the person interviewing you to say, "No," than say, "Yes," and run the risk of a bad hire and how that will look to their boss. As such they're more often looking for reasons to exclude you than hire you.
Cynthia Shapiro is a former human resources executive and consultant who is now a personal career coach and employee advocate. She is the author of "What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here? 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired" (St. Martin's Press, $14.95) and she would agree with you. There is a lot more going on than meets the eye.
According to Shapiro, seven of the most common mistakes that cost people jobs include:
1. Nobody's perfect. Maybe that's true, but the current system is one that does not allow for second chances. If your resume is not in the best format, if you don't know what to say when they surprise you with a phone call, or if you make a mistake during the in-person interview, that opportunity will be over and it's not coming back. There are no second chances.
2. Allowing red flags to remain out in the open.
Reinforcing the above point, a red flag on your resume or in your background will knock you out of the running. They must all be neutralized before you start job searching. Gaps in employment, a previous termination, a poor credit scores (yes this has become a major factor in hiring), inappropriate things on the Internet (yes hiring managers check all that before bringing you in for an interview), a blemish in your past (background check), poor references and inappropriate information in plain view on your facebook, twitter or other social networking accounts. Any one of these things, if not properly neutralized can land your resume or application right into the trash. And, yes, they are all fixable.3. Talking about anything negative either in the phone screening or interview. That includes past jobs, bosses, projects, and even complaining about the economy. There is no such thing as a bad economy for a qualified and sought after applicant. Companies are very superstitious when they hire people. The want to hire people who have a successful air about them. If you talk about anything negative, even if it's not "your fault" you will appear unsuccessful and even unlucky, and will be passed over.
6. Not having any success stories to call upon.
The key to behavioral interviews (or any interview for that matter) is to come armed with your own stories. When you find yourself painted into an interview corner, unsure of what to say, launching into one of your carefully crafted success stories will always get you on the right track and make you look like a star.
7. Assuming friendly hiring managers are on your side. They're not. Interviewers and human resources people are agents of the company and must be treated as such at all times. Failure to understand this and protect yourself accordingly can lead to interview disaster.