11 Ways to Lose Your Next Job Interview Part I

You’ve got an interview! Excellent news!  But remember, you’ve got to be perceived as the best candidate. Just doing “well” in the interview may not be good enough. Here are eleven things to pay attention to in order to make that happen.

1) Not Being Prepared to Discuss How You’ve Made a Difference
You can’t rely on titles or responsibilities or years of service to win the day. Employers want to know how you produce value. They care about what you’ve done with those responsibilities or those years of service. How have you made a difference? Be sure you can talk about that powerfully and specifically.

2) Sharing Information You Should keep to yourself
In a job interview, you are always marketing yourself. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by disclosing information inappropriately. A woman in one of my workshops asked what to say if an employer were to ask why she was moving back to Chicago. You see, she’d recently attended a high school reunion, rekindled the flame with an old boyfriend, and wanted to be with him. She wondered if an employer might think she was “flighty.”

I told her the employer just might think that. So why take the chance? I told her not to lie to the employer, but not to reveal the real reason. She could say something as simple as, “I’ve lived here before, I like Chicago, and I decided to move back. That’s enough for the employer. The rest is not their business.

3) Not Having a Repertoire of Stories
People love to hear stories. Employers love to hear stories about how you’ve been successful. We are inspired by them. Stories give us confidence that you can do the job.

Carefully craft one-minute stories to illustrate your accomplishments. Let the employer “see” you in action. Tell what you were up against, what you did, and how it turned out. What did you accomplish? Include specific results. A good one-minute story can impress more than a half hour of talking about yourself in general terms.

I remember a client who told me a story about what he did when the wife of a key staff member died. This man came to work dutifully, and tried to do his job, but his performance was clearly suffering. My client sat down with this man and told him, “Look, you’ve just suffered a devastating loss. You can’t be here right now. Why don’t you take a month off (with pay) and do what you need to do to get your life back together.” This made the man an even better and more loyal employee than he’d been before.

I was very touched by this story and would’ve hired this client in a flash.

4) Eliminated by Salary
A lot of employers are going to ask you about compensation right upfront. Maybe before they ever lay eyes on you. Why? They don’t want to waste time if you’re not affordable or if you’re not the right level person for the job. If the boss is hiring for an $80,000 job and you are a $60,000 or a $120,000 candidate, he/she doesn’t want to waste time talking to you. But if you play your cards right, you may be able to get the job—and an appropriate salary.

Be sure to read Jack Chapman’s book, Negotiating Your Salary, How to Make $1000 a Minute and develop a strategy to manage this critical job search issue.

5) Winging It
A lot of people are convinced that they’re so good at interviews that they don’t have to plan, prepare, or practice. In fact, even some sales reps have told me they do this. Think about it. A sales rep wouldn’t dream of calling on an important client without having planned the presentation, developed strategies for handling objections, and rehearsing. Yet, they go into a very important interview and just rely on chance. Yes, they may be smooth talkers, but so are their competitors. Be prepared. Don’t know how? Get some coaching. Many people find this really difficult to do for themselves.

The late Joyce Lain Kennedy, career author and syndicated career columnist said Steve Frederick and Jack Chapman are in the upper ranks of America’s most respected career coaches.

11 Ways to Lose Your Next Job Interview Part II

6) Lack of homework
When I interviewed a job applicant some years ago, the first thing he asked me was, “What does your organization do?” What a turnoff! That’s an extreme case, of course, but employers are impressed when you’re taken the time to do your homework and find out about your company—and turned off if you haven’t.

7) Late To an Interview
Some people are astounded that anyone would ever arrive late to an interview, but it happens quite a bit. I’ve learned that people are “wired” in a certain way when it comes to time. We’re very consistent. Some will arrive 20 minutes early, while other arrive ten minutes late. If you happen to be wired to be late or to come right on time, you’re going to need to do some adjustment. Force yourself to arrive in the area of the company at least half an hour early. Allow for the unexpected traffic jam or other things unforeseen. Some clients have told me that they will even drive to the site a day ahead of time to become familiar with the location, parking options, etc.

Now, once you’ve arrived in the area well ahead of the appointed time, don’t go right to the interview. Arriving too early can be awkward. Sit in your car or go to a coffee shop to review your notes and then go to the appointment ten or fifteen minutes before the interview is scheduled.

8) Arrogance
Ok, you’ve got years of experience over the young boss interviewing you. You may very well know lots more about certain things. But don’t be a jerk. First, remember that everyone—even young children—can teach us things. Second, the boss is going to hire someone he/she likes, so if you are arrogant, guess who they won’t like. Who is going to hire someone who doesn’t respect them?

9) Badmouthing Your Former Employer
You say your last boss is a lecher? He/she was overbearing, demanding and made life living hell for you? You got thrown out on the street despite years of loyal service?

You may well have legitimate beefs with your former boss or company. But lose the attitude. Criticizing your former employer will kill you faster than touching a high voltage wire. If you’re critical of your former boss, your prospective boss will think, “So how long before this guy/gal is talking about me that way?”

I recommend that you make peace with your past and try to forgive that old boss, as best you can. If you don’t you’ll be carrying that awful boss with you wherever you may go. It’s hard to hide those feelings.

10) Complaining
For many people, complaining is a favorite pastime. We complain about the traffic, the weather, politicians, and the food we had at the greasy spoon. But don’t do it in job interviews or you risk being seen as a negative person.

11) Not Preparing Cover for Weak Spots
Most people have attributes we’re not proud of or things we’ve done that make us feel shame. We’ve been fired, we’ve been out of work a long time, we haven’t gotten the right degree, we lack key experience, or something else.

You can hope the employer won’t ask the right question to expose you, but a better strategy is to have an answer prepared to diffuse the question. Most of the time, you know what sensitive issues are, so you can prepared. If you don’t know how, get some job interview coaching quick.

Good luck on the next interview.

Steve Frederick and Jack Chapman are long-time career coaches who help people to jump start their careers. They can be reached at Steve@LucrativeCareersInc.com or by calling 847-409-4660.