Your resume is solid. It's as if the job description was written with you in mind, and yet you got passed over! How did this happen?
In a job market that's teeming with qualified applicants, it's not enough to do well in the interview. You need to 'wow' your interviewer. In my time as a recruiter, I've seen plenty of qualified candidates lose an opportunity because of a poor interview with a hiring manager. They should have been a shoe-in! What happened?
Often, your true personality is different from what comes across during a job search. I've identified some common interview personalities that have sucked in even the strongest candidates. When you think the job is yours, here’s how to avoid becoming these long-lost candidates.
The "Harmfully Humble"
Modesty is a wonderful quality to have in life. It's not a good quality to rely on in a job interview.
For most of us, selling our strengths and accomplishments to perfect strangers isn’t normal, so interviews can be awkward if you don't prepare in the right way. While you don't have to become a used car salesman (you'll meet the Hardly Humble next), you can’t let your modesty lead you to selling yourself short.
The “Harmfully Humble” candidate uses self-defacing comments, or takes an "aw, shucks" approach when asked about their accomplishments. You don't want a potential employer to see you as weak or incompetent. If you're humble by nature, it's important to avoid reducing your qualifications during the interview.
How to fix it: Use humility to express gratitude for an opportunity that led to your success, show respect for the managers' time, or use your modesty generate interest in your skills and abilities. A hiring manager might prefer your sincere approach to other job applicants who might appear fake or overbearing.
The "Hardly Humble"
There is such a thing as too much confidence.
As a candidate, you need to be sure you aren't crossing a line into sounding self-involved. The “Hardly Humble” candidate is like a used car salesman: all about selling, not good at listening. This candidate has been told to sell themselves during an interview, so they've practiced assertive language that can come off as aggressive.
For example, if the interviewer asks why they're interested in the job, the “Hardly Humble” lists all their qualifications without pause. The answer includes nothing about the job description, or about the company: it's me, me, me.
Assertive interview techniques rarely work. In fact, they often raise doubts about your sincerity and your ability to get along with others. There's a difference between asking, "Do you have any concerns about my qualifications?" and, "So when do I start?"
How to fix it: The interview is an opportunity to sell your skills, but it's important to pay attention to the employer's wants and needs. If the “Hardly Humble” included more about how their skills and qualifications matched the job description, they would come off as confident rather than conceited. The best way to show you’re confident is asking well-thought-out questions.
A candidate who goes on and on... is a turn off. If you find that you finish answering a question and forget what the question was in the first place, chances are you've fallen victim to this nervous personality.
Often candidates want so desperately want to answer a question well, that the answers become long and unfocused. If the “Rambler” remembers another example or detail at the end of the answer, they go back and tell that one, too.
Here’s the secret: the interviewer will remember how they felt during your interview, not the specifics of what you said. Your natural reaction is to start blurting out an answer as quickly as possible to show the interviewer you know what you're talking about. The interviewer will remember being confused about the points you’re trying to make.
The truth is, interviewers appreciate it when you sit for a few seconds, gather your thoughts, and give them a clear, well-structured answer.
How to fix it: The number one reason we ramble on is because we didn't structure our answers. The “Rambler” will benefit from outlining key points so their answers have a distinct beginning, middle and end. For behavioral questions, this is when the STAR method becomes helpful. If you're asked "Tell me about a time when…" you should respond with a Situation, Task, Action taken, and Result.
The "Detail Dumper"
Not unlike the rambler, the “Detail Dumper” just doesn't know when to stop. Where the “Rambler” talks on and on with no point, the “Detail Dumper” drowns the interviewer with specifics.
The "Tell me about yourself" question becomes a retelling of their life history, with a synopsis of every job they've ever held. It’s exhausting. You'll take the mood from "Who is this new, interesting person?" to "When will they stop talking so I can go get lunch!"
In most cases, the interviewer doesn't need or want the details, they want to get to know YOU. What you bring to the table often is lost when it's muddled down with too many points.
How to fix it: The “Detail Dumper” would benefit from practicing common interview questions and restricting each answer to two or three key bullet points. If you have a number of statistics about your success, choose the most compelling or most relevant, and stick with that.
Click HERE to download your handy pre-interview checklist – you won't want to schedule your next interview without it!
What are your top tips for acing an interview and landing the job? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us at @HeyWorkingGirl!