Ever wonder why, after a series of interviews, you get a message, “Thanks for being a candidate, but we’ve hired someone else”. You ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?”, or “What made someone else a better candidate?” During an interview you should focus on accentuating the positives and minimizing the negatives. Let me explain.
Adding a positive means demonstrating to the hiring manager the skills and experiences that they are looking for in a candidate. Adding positives can help you become a better candidate than others. Positives are additive, meaning the more you have, the better chance of becoming the candidate of choice for a position you want. Positives are usually found in your level of education, results you have achieved, accomplishments, past experiences, high levels of performance, and so on.
However, all of your positives can be wiped out by a negative that eliminates you as a candidate. Here are some examples:
- Cultural Fit – Ever been in an interactive and harmonious group then interrupted by someone who just doesn’t fit? The same thing can happen in an interview. Each work group has cultural norms of which an interviewing candidate isn’t aware. Be sensitive to the cultural norms of an organization and the hiring manager. Go with the flow.
- Attitude – The worst thing you can do is talk down to people, use demeaning gestures or words to receptionists, secretaries or administrative assistants. They tend to tell their bosses about your aloof, patronizing or unfriendly comments.
- Behavior- During stressful times, some people become flippant or use inappropriate humor to mask their anxiety. It can be misread as a negative, affecting your image.
- Body language – Too casual a posture while sitting, constant fidgeting or not looking people in the eye can translate into disinterest or uneasiness with the interviewer
- Inarticulate answers to questions – Some people answer questions that aren’t asked or mumble answers that are incomprehensible. Prepare to answer questions you know will be asked. 80% of most questions are predictable.
- I/me/my versus we/our/team – Taking all the credit or focusing only on your efforts tell the interviewer that you’re not a team player. Recognizing the efforts of others, while sharing your contributions toward results, is the best strategy.
Being courteous to staff who are not interviewers can pay dividends. Thanking people for welcoming you at reception, or escorting you to an office helps set up a positive relationship with those who you may work with later. It’s also just plain good manners.
Most candidates focus on the content of their interviews. However, eliminating some of the unconscious negative factors could make the difference of becoming the top candidate or the “also ran”. Suggestions: Practice interviewing with a mentor or coach to optimize your positives and minimize the negatives. Video tape yourself answering questions. Assess and change unbecoming behaviors.
It takes many positives to move up the candidacy ladder, but only one negative to bump you off.
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