Job searches can be very frustrating especially if you are getting interview calls, and attending one or 2 rounds of good interviews but alas not getting the final nod or the much-wanted offer letter.
You keep hearing that, while you were a finalist, but the decision-makers went with someone who “was better suited for the job.” or maybe you did not hear anything back at all.
The good news is: that you are getting interviews. You simply need to change how you handle that one part of the process. This is how to diagnose what’s holding you back—and fix it.
1. You’re Qualified But Boring
Thinking back on your interview, you feel good about it. You had a reasonable answer to every question and made no major mistakes. Nothing really sticks out, but you know you did a good, solid job.
Unfortunately, that’s generally not enough to land an offer.
Hiring managers often lead multiple interviews a day, sometimes back-to-back. Even if you have strong qualifications, you’ll have a hard time finding your way onto the offer list—let alone the top spot—if he or she has to go back to their notes to even remember who you are.
The ideal applicant comes off as both able to do the job and like someone you’d want to spend time with—in his words, “warm and competent.”
If you were very personable but lacked certain technical skills, you would need to build those skills to round out your application (say, by enrolling in a course). You’re on the other side of things, you’ve got the experience, but you’ll want to get better at connecting with the interviewer and make yourself stand out.
The best way to do that is to practice. So, don’t just rehearse what you’re going to say in your head. Ask a good friend to meet over coffee and practice your responses. Have him/her point out if you’re really standing out by your warmth, confidence, smile, or simply "ordinary".
2. You’re Qualified, But You Lack Interview Skills
Do you know someone who’s super smart, but for whatever reason, just isn’t a good test-taker? They get nervous, they feel boxed in, they choke—well, the same thing can happen in interviews.
It could be that you have the exact right qualifications to get in the door, but once you’re sitting across from the hiring manager you repeatedly put your foot in your mouth. Maybe you throw your old boss or colleagues under the bus, so you don’t come off like a team player. Maybe you ask questions that make it clear you didn’t do your research. Maybe you don’t ask any questions at all. Maybe you skip the thank you note because you think it doesn’t really matter.
It might not seem fair that you have to “play by the rules” if you’re experienced enough to start tomorrow. But truth talk: You do. So step one is accepting that—just like a poor test-taker needs to improve how they take them —you’ll want to learn more about interviewing.
From there, take these steps.
Step two: Ask yourself if there’s a particular moment in an interview, in which you always feel stumped. Do you get uncomfortable when it comes to discussing salary or maybe you have been leaving it to the interviewers to guess? Maybe you’re still not sure what to say when asked “What’s your biggest weakness?” These conversations are challenging, so it’s OK to admit that you’re struggling with certain aspects.
Step three: Once you’ve identified where you can improve, fix it. If you want someone to guide you through it, reach out to a friend or an interview coach.
3. You’re Qualified, But Desperate
When asked why you want the job, you tell the truth—the whole truth. Maybe you gush about how this is your dream company. Maybe you get real about how you would take just about anything to leave your current job and, you’re perfectly suited for this role.
Honesty is the best policy—right?
Wrong. If you make it seem like hiring you is a big favor, the interviewer is likely to pass over you for someone who frames it as something that would benefit them and the company.
As with anything else, it’s possible to be too honest. You can tell your friend that the new recipe she made is not your favorite, without saying it’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten. Similarly, you can show your passion for a company by giving thoughtful answers to what drew you to apply and how you’d approach potential projects.
Remember, if you put all of your emphasis on why you want this job, odds are you’re not spending enough time on why they’d benefit from hiring you (which is, after all, their motivation). So, for every time you list something you love about the company, list one way you’d be able to support, innovate, or grow something there.
Checking everything off the position description may get you in the door. But to surpass other qualified candidates and land an offer, make sure you’re taking the ball to the goal, and scoring.