How To Not Suck At Job Interviews

Job interviews can be tough, perplexing, and still very much out of your control no matter how amazing you perform. Still, I’m very much a proponent that even though you may perform incredibly in an interview, you still might not mesh with the interviewers, and it will likely a bullet dodged.

With that said, let’s run through the top 5 reasons people fail at interviews and how we can quickly overcome them.

It’s Evident You Didn’t Prepare For Your Interview.

This is likely the biggest reasons a qualified applicant can lose out on a role. Preparation so often trumps experience – particularly when you’re up against candidates with similar qualifications. Sure, it’s nowhere near an accurate evaluation of how you would perform on-the-job, but when you have trouble at least conveying how you would perform on the job – albeit believable and genuinely – you’re going to have trouble convincing the interviewers.

Solution: Prepare. Spend time preparing your examples, honing your answers on, and fully understanding the value you’d bring to the role. Research top interview questions, check out their reviews on Glassdoor under the “interview” section, and check out my guide on How To Crush Your Interviews!

You’re Under/Over Dressed For Your Interviews.

I’ll admit, this can be tough to gauge. I’ve had interviews where I’ve expected to wear a suit and been told to dress down, only to arrive with a room full of interviewers wearing suits. Other times, I’ve interviewed for roles within my current company and expected to be able to dress down due to the lack of formality.

Solution: Conduct your due diligence of the workplace. For men, there’s a small range of acceptable outfits for an interview anyways, that would likely range from slacks and a sweater to a full-on suit. It’s hard to under/overdress when you’re wearing a shirt and tie with a nice pair of pants, but it’s easy to overdress wearing a suit to a Tech Startup wearing hoodies and jeans.

3. You’re Not Asking The Right Questions/Or Any Questions At The End.

If your questions are all about compensation and “when do I start?” at the end of the interview, that’s too transparent. If you leave the interview by saying “Nah, I don’t have any questions at this point. Thanks”, you’ve missed an opportunity to end the interview on a great note and connect even further with the interviewers by showing your interest.

Solution: Come prepared with 2-3 relevant and positive questions that show you’ve done your research, you’re knowledgeable, and that you’re interested. Use these as backup questions in case there weren’t any that came up during the interview that you were curious about. Some easy examples would be:

  • What are some ways I could expect to be evaluated in this role? 
  • What would you like to see improved from the previous person in this role? If the person currently in that role is in the room, be cautious with how you word it. Make it evident you’re asking for their insight on where THEY would like to see the role go.
  • What is a memorable moment or one of your favourite things about this role? It’s corny, but it gets the interviewers reminiscing about good times and leaving on a positive note. If you’re going to ask this question, make sure you save it for last. 

4. You’re Hiding Your Personability/You Seem Like A Robot That No One Would Want To Work With.

Sure, interviews are intimidating, and surely the conventional job-seeking wisdom you’ve been exposed to over-and-over again in your life prescribes not taking any risks. Remember, their not just evaluating your experience/skills in an interview, they’re mostly evaluating your personality, whether you’d be able to handle the role to the level their seeking, and if you’d be a solid fit for their team.

I’ve had tremendous amounts of difficulty explaining to clients how “cultural fit” is paramount these days and that it can often be the difference between you and the successful candidate (who may even be less qualified but seen as “trainable).

Solution: Obviously without seeming odd, be yourself. Be a person. Answer your questions truthfully (without

5. You’re Following Up Too Much/In Weird Ways.

I get it, you’ve just interviewed for a role you’d be great at, you felt the rapport building throughout the time spent, and you’re just waiting for the inevitable call back. Do you know just about the only thing outside of a more appropriate candidate that could ruin this? …still unsure?

Well, it’s your follow-ups. The follow-up process is a delicate game. I’ve experienced it on both sides – as a job seeker and as a recruiter. Sending a LinkedIn request after a promising interview is likely something I would avoid until you hear back – either negatively or positively. Sending a “Thank-You” e-mail acknowledging them for their time is something that you could always express at the end of the interview, and in my opinion, it doesn’t warrant an e-mail on its own…especially if you’re sending it within hours of interviewing.

Solution: Where I do advise sending a follow-up, is when you haven’t heard anything past the date they mentioned they should have a decision. When following-up in this format, you need to prepare yourself either for radio silence or to hear back that you weren’t successful and they’ve moved forward with someone else’s application. BUT, if it’s been a couple days since you were told you would hear back, send them a quick note like below.

 

Dear _____,

Thank you again for taking the time to share more about your company, the role, and the vision you have for the person stepping in.

It’s a role I was very excited about having the opportunity to discuss and feel there are a lot of valuable strengths I would bring to the success of the role.

As mentioned during the interview that you would have a decision by ___, ____, I just wanted to politely follow-up and see if there were any questions you may have that could lend to the process at all.

Either way, I hope you enjoy the rest of the day and I’m looking forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely, _____

 

Regardless, I feel that sending any form of follow-up isn’t going to move the chain. I’ve never hired someone based off of receiving a thank-you letter, nor have I ever changed my mine from not hiring someone to putting them at the top of my list because they sent a thank you note. But what it can do is expedite the decision, remind them that they were wanting to book a second (or third) interview with you, or provide some clarity on why they’ve decided to scrap the role (if this is the case).