Stop me if this sounds familiar. You apply to 15 different jobs that you feel you are qualified to do. You never hear back from 12 of the companies and 2 companies formally reject you (by email of course). However, one of the companies invites you in for an interview. After 3 separate interviews, you get a call from human resources letting you know that they have selected another candidate. Employers have a lot of reasons why they don’t hire you. Those reasons may include: you don’t have enough experience, we can’t afford you, you live too far away, we decided not to pay for relocation, the job is on hold, and the list goes on. It is disappointing. However, are employers really being truthful with you on the “real reason” they didn’t hire you?
Wouldn’t it be nice to be a fly on the wall when they are sitting around discussing the candidates for the job so you could get their “raw” impressions on their feedback about you? I have been in many of these “decision rooms” over the years and here are three real things that have knocked great candidates to the “do not hire” list.
1. Soft Skills. Yes. This is the killer of many good interviews. When you are neck and neck with others competing for the same job, it is ALWAYS the small things that make a difference. Great examples are cold handshakes, no eye contact, frowning, interrupting the interviewer, incomplete thoughts, below average appearance (grooming, clothes, etc.) and lack of confidence.
2. Inability to communicate your value to a company. Ever get turned down and told this reason? I bet you have not. Every job affects the bottom line of a company (nonprofits included). In the interview process, if you cannot specifically lay out how your skills in the job you are interviewing for will increase profits of the company, you will usually not get the job. Research the job and make sure you demonstrate your track record of building value for previous companies doing similar things. This is HUGE and you must lead in this category against other candidates for the open position.
3. Overall Impression. Do you get it? Before you even interview, you should get a really good idea of how the company operates by doing a lot of research. For example, if applying to a sales job, it would be great to know if the sales floor is an open plan, cubicles or separate offices so you can demonstrate your ability to work in any of those environments. If it is an insurance account manager job, you should know what systems they use for managing clients. How do you find this out? For technical stuff, just call the company and ask what systems they use. For everything else, identify if the company has a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube of LinkedIn page. Look at photos and company events. Get a sense of how the company engages employees. During the interview, make sure they know you can “fit in” with their environment.
It really is critical.
What if you can’t find out anything about a company because they don’t participate in social media and fly under the radar of search technology? Don’t give up. Try to find employees who may have worked at that company via LinkedIn and reach out to them and ask them what is like to work at ABC company. You will be surprised how much information you can find that will give you a huge advantage in the interview process!