Frequently cited as one of the hardest tasks for business leaders and HR heads, hiring is a never ending strategic priority. A good hire can transform a business while one that turns sour can be a negative experience for all. We recently asked a sample of HR managers what are the most common reasons why people fall down in job interviews. Here are the findings.
1. “Candidate didn’t bring any new perspectives to the job.”
OBSERVATION: The most common negative observation is that many candidates, while believing they are qualified to do the job, don’t consider what broader holistic experience they can bring to the table to stake their claim to the job.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: research the job spec thoroughly … but also factor in the things that you feel only you can bring to the role and thus leave no-one in any doubt that you are the ideal candidate.
2. “Candidate was too hard to follow. We weren’t able to connect her experience with our requirements.”
OBSERVATION: Hiring-managers often struggle to understand industry acronyms and jargon, their real expertise being – seeing things for what they are and talking straight. Unless the candidate can recount her experience in a way that is simple and articulate, the interviewer may lose the thread of what you are saying causing you to lose the interview.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: Demonstrate articulately the relevance of your previous experience by being succinct and being relevant. Don’t fudge or lose the interviewer’s attention with waffle. Practise on a family member. Avoid company speak.
3. “He honed in on one area of his experience and skated over everything else – we felt he was hiding something.”
OBSERVATION: We all have a collection of shining examples of our sterling achievements and in our eagerness to arrive at them, we don’t think about the ‘journeyman’ aspects of our career to date. These are often as important to a hiring company.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: Tell the whole story of your career. Definitely stress these achievements but volunteer the times when you overcame a weakness as you gained experience and matured. Start by creating a mini database of all your achievements that illustrate a strength or progress on a weakness. String them together chronologically to demonstrate progress over time. Practise until you are confident and in control. Add colour and anecdote to entertain and be memorable.
4. “We only hire if we believe we will be able to promote the candidate. He came across as limited potential.”
OBSERVATION: Because we are concentrating hard on demonstrating our ability to function in a specific role naturally we hone our focus to convince the interviewer of our fit for that one role. Don’t forget that companies are looking for long term potential as much as for your suitability to a particular role.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: Consider the broader organisation, the industry and the future. Look at this appointment through different lenses – the wider team, the department, the company, the industry and the longer term. This approach is visionary and inquisitive rather than task-focused, operational and well, ‘junior’!
5. “Candidate lacked passion for the role.”
OBSERVATION: The candidate showed no curiosity for the company or demonstrated a real desire to fit in.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: This is a chance for the candidate to interview the company as much as they are interviewing them. Make sure you demonstrate your eagerness for the role by manifesting your appetite – ensure it is the right decision for you by asking questions. Will the company culture allow you to work in a way that is authentic to you? Will your new manager’s style motivate you? How will your performance be measured? Will you fit in? Will you thrive? Be proactive rather than reactive at the interview.
6. “Candidate seemed to be performing. We were left wondering who the real candidate was.”
OBSERVATION: The candidate was different after the interview had ended. I wondered who the real person was – the one that responded to my questions or the one that looked so relieved as he put his coat on.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: The interview has ended and the candidate breathes a sigh of relief. It’s gone as well as they could have hoped for. But watch out for the doorknob moment as your host is showing you out. Until the door has closed, impressions are still being formed.
7. “Candidate lacked attention to detail.”
OBSERVATION: I know our sector is known for its inclusive dress code but she looked like she had made no effort at all.
ADVISE FOR THE INTERVIEWEE: Business culture has changed dramatically in recent years and casual dress policy and flexible working conditions are more common. But play it safe and dress interview-appropriate and make sure your shoes are polished. Old fashioned etiquette is a bit like using the interviewer’s name during the conversation. They’ll remember you for it.
In a competitive job market, candidates need to think about the little extras they can bring in order to do better at interviews. The things that make them stand out from other candidates and from the crowd. With a little more thought and preparation, they will become more confident and that confidence is the very thing that will allow them to relax and shine.
If you’ve found these observations useful contact us online to find out more about how to improve your own hiring processes for future success.