We have all done it before at some point in our lives. Instead of putting our best foot forward, we put our feet in our mouths. But the stakes are much higher when we are talking about a job interview. It is critical that you come to the interview well prepared so that employers feel confident that you live up to the positive impression that they received from you based on your resume.
Here are just a few red flags that will tell an employer that you are not the right fit for the position:
You don’t have a convincing answer for why you left your last job. If you feel bad about being laid off or if you were fired for cause, you may not be able to convince employers that you had a good reason for leaving. If you give a response that leaves more questions than it answers, you give employers a good reason to go on to the next candidate.
If you were laid off from your job, and it was a business decision that had nothing to do with the quality of your work, then you need to make sure that you don’t take it personally. And when you go to the interview, make sure that you put the layoff in context (i.e., the company decided to lay off 10% of its workforce, and I was one of the ones impacted). If you were fired for cause, then you need to talk about what you learned from that company about what you need to differently in the future or what would make a productive work environment for you where you can do your best work.
You speak negatively about previous employers. Even though you may have worked for the worst company and/or the worst boss in the world, the interview is not the time or place to mention this. If you need to vent, do so with family and trusted friends. But in the interview, keep it positive. The interviewer may ask you a question like, “What did you like most about your boss?” or “What would your boss say about you?” Even for a horrible boss, you can usually find something positive to say. You might say that your boss had very high standards if you know that your boss was someone that you could never please. And if you know that your boss never liked you but you always turned in a good work product, you could say, “My boss would say that I am very diligent in my work.”
You don’t have any questions. When asked, “Do you have any questions?” many interviewees respond, “No.” This is not the correct answer. Too many job seekers miss a golden opportunity to come across as a thoughtful and interested candidate by not coming to the interview prepared to ask good questions.
Job seekers need to be able to demonstrate to the potential boss that they have really thought about the position and have some good, probing questions. But you also need to ask questions that will help you determine whether or not this is going to work out.
Here are some good questions to ask:
- What are your top priorities for the person in this position for the next three months?
- · If you could describe your corporate culture in three words, what would you say?
- What are the top qualities necessary to succeed in this company?
- What is your vision for the organization?
- What are some of the toughest challenges facing the person who will fill this position?
You don’t know what the company does. This is the kiss of death. By doing a simple search on the Internet you can find the company’s website to find out not only what they do but also who their competitors are, what their competitive edge is, how long they have been in business, and what new initiatives they have coming down the pike. There is no excuse for going into an interview without knowing at a minimum what type of work the company is engaged in.
For positions that you are really interested in, you should find the company’s mission statement and values statement so that you can speak their language at the interview. I also recommend that if possible, you take it a step further and see who in your network knows someone who works for the organization. That way you can get an insider’s perspective.
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