Not too long ago, I had a prospect contact me because he wasn’t getting job offers. He had impressive experience and was getting a lot of interviews, yet, every opportunity died on the interview table. He assumed he was doing something wrong, but what?
Being a coach I’ve learned to tell hard truths to people, because it’s in their best interest.
Following are some real issues I’ve encountered both as an interviewer, as well as obstacles I’ve helped clients overcome that were getting in the way of their success. The list is not exhaustive, and I welcome your adds in the comments.
1. Carrying anger or resentment forward from a previous position
Were you laid off unfairly, fired by a manager who disposed of you for their personal agenda, or some other disappointing circumstance?
It’s absolutely essential you let it go. Today.
Any root of bitterness in you is detectable in your tone or body language by an interviewer, even if you’re unaware of it. The only way to truly let it go is to forgive the person that wronged you and move on. You’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for you. Living with resentment or anger toward someone gives them power over you. Don’t give them that control.
2. An off-putting personality trait
The person I was telling you about that wasn’t getting offers? He suspected he was doing something to put people off.
My client’s initial attitude was, “I’m going to be myself and if people don’t like me, too bad. I don’t want to work there if I have to fake who I am to get hired.”
If being likable requires faking, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
A woman at a networking event I attended two weeks ago mirrored his sentiment. She said, “People don’t need to like me, we just need to be able to work together.” While not everyone is going to like you, proclaiming you don’t care if people like you suggests that’s something you commonly encounter. Hiring managers have plenty of candidates to choose from that they can work well with… and like.
If you share this attitude, remember, everything happens through people. Expecting others to accommodate a bad attitude when you’re not accommodating what they need from you is an unrealistic expectation. In the long run, it’s more work dealing with the conflict a bad attitude creates in your life than the effort totransform your attitude. Don’t be the reason you don’t succeed.
Some other off-putting personality traits in an interview are arrogance, humble bragging, defensiveness, and lack of confidence.
I’m happy to report I did some interview coaching with my client and the very next interview resulted in an offer. I did, however, provide some tough love on what would be necessary to ensure he retained his employment!
3. Brutal honesty
You always want to be truthful in an interview, but you have to evaluate if some things are wise to share. I once interviewed a woman to whom I asked one area where she felt she needed personal or professional development. She told me she had a really bad temper. I wasn’t keen to experience it. Be honest, but don’t be brutally honest.
4. Your speaking style: Mumblers, fast or slow talkers
Many interviews start with a phone screen. I once did telephone coaching with a client I struggled to understand because he mumbled. One day I asked him, “Has anyone ever given you feedback that it’s difficult to understand you over the phone? You mumble, and also speak very rapidly, and I can see this being a obstacle for you– especially for a phone interview.”
No one had spoken truth to this man about his mumbling. Simple awareness of his issue enabled him to speak more clearly and slow down. After more than a year of unemployment he landed a job in under a month.
Rate of Speech
University of Michigan researchers have found people who talk really fast are seen as out to pull the wool over our eyes, while people who talk really slow are seen as not too bright, or tiresome. It is especially important not to speak too fast if you have an accent that differs from the interviewer. Practice answering interview questions with people who are willing to tell you the truth if you’re speaking too fast, or too slow.
I once interviewed a guy who spent 25-minutes of a 30-minute phone screen answering only the first question I asked. I writhed in pain in my chair, and the only thought going through my head was that weekly one-on-one’s would be torture with this guy.
Rambling can be caused by nervousness, lack of preparedness, a misguided notion that the interviewer requires every detail of your story, or unfamiliarity with best practices for answering interview questions.
One way to avoid rambling is to use the STAR technique to ensure succinct answers to questions, explained here. You should also prepare a list of your top performance results to link to what the employer seeks in the job description. Step-by-step instructions are found here.
It is vitally important to have a coachable spirit and openness to feedback. If you’ve had several interviews and they’re not converting to an offer, I recommend participating in mock interviews, and seeking feedback to determine if you’re erring in any of these ways. It may just be that other candidates were more qualified, but it can’t hurt to be sure.
All the best to you!