Being good at interviewing isn’t a natural skill – it’s something that requires practice and development. If you’ve been at your current role a significant amount of time, you might find yourself struggling with finding a new position. If that’s the case, it might be time to brush up on your interview skills, or find a recruiter to help you with mock or prep interviews. Here’s five indications you might need to brush up on your interview skills and areas to work on.
1. You Don’t Get Past the Phone Interview
Many employers are doing a pre-screening phone interview before inviting candidates in to do an in-person interview. If you repeatedly get passed over after a phone interview, here could be a few interview skills you need to work on:
- You give yes/no answers too much when you need to be elaborating.
- You interrupt the interviewer or do not come across as a team-player. Everyone says they are a team-player, but unless you can give examples of a time when you championed another person’s idea over your own, or happily worked on a project that used technology different than what you would have chosen, you might not be. It’s easy for a quarterback to say they are a team-player when they’re calling all the shots and making all the decisions.
- You’re too nervous or self-assured – being nervous is natural, and it actually helps to be honest. Say “I’m really nervous, I’m just so excited about this opportunity – so apologies in advance if I stumble!” Believe me, any hiring manager that hears that will put your resume to the top of the stack – you openly shared something potentially embarrassing and you owned it. Coming across too self-assured is also an issue, yes you want to be confident in your skills but also recognize you have a lot of learning to do. No matter how long you have done a role, it’s impossible to know everything. Show your skills with an interest for continued learning and it will go a long way.
- You sound disinterested in the job (even if you are interested) – don’t play hard to get, it doesn’t work in dating or job interviews.
Phone interviews are tricky – it is really hard for an interviewer to read your emotions over the phone. If you’re working with a good recruiter, they can help prep you. Or, ask a friend to interview you and give you honest feedback.
2. The Interviewer Seems Disinterested
If you repeatedly find that the person interviewing you seems disinterested or bored it’s a solid sign you need help with your interview skills. Ideally, you want to be as engaging as possible. If you’re interviewing, they like your background – now you need to excite them with your personality if you want the job. Some reasons for an interviewer losing interest:
- You’re not engaging – interviews are two-way streets, make sure to have some questions to ask and turn the interview into a conversation.
- You don’t seem interested in the role – if you don’t act interested, how do you expect an interviewer to get excited about you? Make sure to research the company and share a couple reasons you’re interested in working for them.
- You complain excessively about your past boss/employer – this is a big no-no. We’ve all had bad managers and employers – you don’t need to go into extreme details. Just give simple reasons for leaving and I’m sure the hiring manager can read between the lines.
3. The Interviewer isn’t Making Eye Contact or Has Negative Body Language
This means something serious is amiss. If this happens every time you’re interviewing, there’s something up. Make sure you’re making good eye contact and don’t let your eyes wander around the room. They can’t make eye contact with you if you’re not looking at them. Negative body language, like crossed legs or a frown might also be a bad indication. Some reasons for this:
- They aren’t getting enough energy – time to pick up the slack and show more positive energy.
- The personal connection isn’t there – this is why research before an interview is important. Try asking a personal question based on the interviewers LinkedIn profile/company bio. Have something in common? Share away!
- They aren’t impressed or interested and are going through the motions. Maybe the interviewer doesn’t think your background is a fit, but someone else did or they are simply stressed out and have a lot on their plate. This is a tough situation, and requires quick thinking (and careful preparation) to get through. How? By sharing an example of how you might make their life easier. “I imagine things are pretty hectic with end of the year financials coming up. It was like that at my current roles, until I created a process and program to instantly pull key reports for my manager – it saved him so much time that we incorporated it across the company.” Chances are, this will get any hiring managers attention – just giving an example of how you are trying to actively solve problems and make things easier for your manager makes you a solid hiring decision.
4. The Interview is Cancelled/Changed after you Arrive
If your on-site interviews are being cancelled/changed/postponed on you, there could be a few reasons. Here’s the most common:
- You showed up late – most interviews won’t see you if you’re late. If you’re going to be late, always call to let your interviewer know.
- You’re not dressed appropriately – first impressions are key, and if you show up looking out of place, you might get turned away.
- You didn’t confirm your interview – mistakes happen, and sometimes hiring managers and candidates get the wrong time or get overbooked. It’s always good to check in the day before to confirm your interview – esp. if it was scheduled a week or two in advance.
- You were rude/inappropriate with the receptionist or someone else along the way – the receptionist is likely friendly with the hiring manager you’re meeting with. Although it seems like a basic skill, be nice to everyone you encounter. We’ve all read stories (true or not) of candidates being rude to others on their way into the building, only to discover the person they were rude to was actually the hiring manager. Yikes.
5. You Don’t Get the Job
Interview after interview and still no job? Time to get an honest opinion from a friend of a friend (someone you don’t know that well) or sign up for a mock interview day. Feedback may not be fun to hear but is essential to getting the job you want. Commons reasons for candidates coming in second:
- Personality – companies are especially careful to look for cultural fit when making a hire. Either they saw something in your personality they didn’t think was a fit, or, more likely, they didn’t get to see your personality because you were trying too hard to be professional. Remember, the biggest key to getting a job is making a personal connection with the interview committee.
- Thank you note – when it’s a nose to nose finish, little things like thank you notes can make the difference between getting the offer and not.
- Something you said – swearing and inappropriate comments have no place in an interview, no matter what the interviewer might say or do. Even in a joking manner.
- You were too agreeable – hiring manager want a fresh perspective, someone who can bring ideas to the table, not a parrot.