The good news is that you may be about to find out what your mistake is, and you can fix it.
And you’re not alone. In well over a decade as an interview coach, I’ve found that the following mistakes are extremely common. If your screenings and interviews are going nowhere, chances are that the problem, and some actionable solutions, are listed below.
Stumbling out of the starting gate.
We know how important first impressions are. Your handshake and smile are one kind of first impression, and another is your answer to the first interview question. Typically the question is something like “Would you please tell me a bit about yourself?” or “Would you walk me through your background?” Preparing a winning answer to this first question will take you a long way toward success.
Burying your gold in an avalanche.
You’ve got good things to say about yourself–skills, accomplishments, traits that make you a great employee. If these nuggets are surrounded by unnecessary details, digressions and repetitions, the interviewer’s eyes will glaze over. Learn to be concise. Above all, make sure you know what your “gold” really is–your unique selling proposition, the key points that really make you stand out. Then emphasize those throughout the interview, especially in your answer to the first question.
Leaving your emotional intelligence at home.
Just as success in interviews is partly emotional, so is success at work. Demonstrate your emotional intelligence or soft skills by what you do and say during the interview.
Avoid speaking in generalities. Replace vague words like “stuff” and “people” with clear terms like “actions” and “customers.” Give examples. Tell stories. A well-told story will have your interviewer engrossed in a mental movie in which you’re delivering the kind of performance they need. You can build a substantial list of true success stories and learn how to tell them effectively, even if you think you have no stories to tell.
Failing to show enthusiasm.
The winning candidate is usually someone who was enthusiastic. Let’s say you’re passionate about your work but you just aren’t very expressive in interviews. If this is you, make a point of revealing your positive feelings. Use words like “exciting,” “fascinating” and “what I love about…” Another way of demonstrating enthusiasm is to go above and beyond the interview requirements. Research the company more deeply than anyone expects, and/or consider offering “interview extras” like a presentation or 30/60/90 day plan. Finally, make sure you express strong interest in the role when you close the interview, then follow up in a way that shows you mean it.
Being extremely nervous.
Some aspects of interview preparation are intellectual, like working out good answers to expected questions. Overcoming anxiety is different. If just being intellectually prepared doesn’t calm your fears and jitters, try a more holistic approach like guided visualization It’s also helpful in improving body language and other habits that can hold you back in your interviews.
Which of these areas strikes a chord for you? Roll up your sleeves and take action to turn your interviews into offers.