How To Stop Sabotaging Your Job Interview

How To Stop Sabotaging Your Job Interview

In my years as a talent acquisition professional, I have seen candidates who should have been hired get eliminated from the process due to mistakes they made in their face-to-face interview. When I say should have been hired, I mean they were very qualified for the position, even the most qualified of all the candidates on paper. Hiring managers are looking for relevant experience, sure, but they are also looking at a candidate’s fit with the team, management, and the company culture. If any of those things feel “off” during the interview, the candidate will have a hard time convincing the hiring team that his/her skills can overcome their reservations.

Hiring a new person is an inherently risky proposition. According to an article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of a bad hire includes the following:

  • Recruitment advertising fees and staff time

  • Relocation and training fees for replacement hires

  • The negative impact on team performance

  • The disruption to incomplete projects

  • Lost customers

  • Outplacement service.  

  • Weakened employer brand

  • Litigation fees

A new hire’s success is a reflection on the manager's judgment. Unless the candidate can shine in all aspects of the interview, the less risky thing for a manager to do in the long run is to keep interviewing until s/he finds “the one.”

Here is what candidates unknowingly do to sabotage their chances.

The Candidate That Doesn’t Know About The Company

A common way to sabotage an interview is to not do the necessary preparation. This can include not researching the company. Some candidate cannot be bothered to learn the company business and how the role contributes to the company’s success. Why should anyone hire a candidate for a job if the candidate is not interested enough to have a basic understanding of the business?  This includes one of the biggest turn-offs for hiring teams---no questions asked at the end of the interview. Most hiring managers and recruiters feel that if the candidate does not take the job opportunity seriously and invests time into learning about the company, they won’t do the appropriate preparation on the job either.

The Candidate That Shares Too Much

I have seen candidates that wants to tell their whole life story in an interview. This includes everything going on with them medically, family-wise, spiritually, emotionally, etc. I have had hiring managers come out of an interview and shake their head about the intimate details they heard from a candidate. While the candidate may feel that s/he is building rapport, the hiring manager is thinking that the candidate has an issue with oversharing.  Many hiring managers have concerns about the potential drama around this individual and the impact on the team. Another concern would be how would this type of individual communicate with people external to the company, such as clients and vendors. What kind of impression would they leave with others if they are sharing intimate details of their life? Certainly not the professionality that most hiring managers would want from members of their team.

The Candidate That Thinks She Is A Shoo-In

Because these candidates know that they have good relevant experience, they come in thinking they have the job already. More than self-confidence, these candidates often give off a vibe of arrogance. Often these candidates will not go into depth about their experience when responding to questions figuring that the resume says it all, or they are condescending when answering questions. The hiring manager comes out of the interview thinking, “I can’t have that sort of egotism on my team. Sure, they can probably do the job, but they would be insufferable to work with.”

The Candidate That Is Desperate

If a candidate has been out of work, s/he may feel a bit desperate to find a job, especially if bank funds are dwindling.  If the candidate comes to the interview and can’t mask that desperation and exude confidence in his/her abilities and a real desire to work for this company, this can be a big problem in an interview.  Hiring managers generally want someone who not only can do the job but really wants to work for the company---not because it is income---but because the candidate feels some sort of connection to the work or mission. If the candidate comes into the interview with an air of desperation, even if real, it can be a big turnoff. I am not saying this is fair but in my experience, it is a reality.

The Candidate That Can’t Sell Themselves

The point of an interview is for the employer to learn more about a candidate and vice versa. For job seekers, the resume is a marketing tool to describe your career experience and what you have accomplished. It is what you use to get to an interview. The interview is where you can then elaborate on your knowledge, skills, and achievements and build rapport with the hiring team. In the interview, you want to be able to demonstrate through conversation that you can solve the company’s problems. Many candidates do a poor job of this. Either because they have not practiced answering interview questions or have a case of nerves, they have a hard time articulating what they can offer. Answers often will have no depth, will be too short or just do not make sense to the hiring team. You leave the hiring team uninspired. I have had many a hiring manager tell me that they were disappointed by a candidate’s inability to answer the questions posed in a meaningful way. They wanted to like the person but just could not.

The Candidate That Talks Too Much

There are some individuals that have no idea that they just are talking way too much. I had an interview where the candidate was asked a question that should have taken two to three minutes to answer. The candidate, though, talked non-stop for ten minutes. Did they add anything in the extra seven minutes they took that was meaningful? No, not really. Worse, the person never checked with me whether I was following them or if I needed more elaboration. Needless to say, this behavior is a turn off to most hiring teams. No one wants others to take up their valuable time by not getting to the point.

The good thing is it is easy to not sabotage yourself in an interview. Come to the interview prepared, stay on message, be confident and not arrogant and don’t exude an air of desperation. If you can do those things, you have a good shot at getting the job.


Are Thank You Notes After An Interview Necessary?

Are Thank You Notes After An Interview Necessary?

Get the job like I did. How to prepare for an interview.

Get the job like I did. How to prepare for an interview.

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