How to Lose a Job Offer in 8 Minutes
By Joanne Richard
You’re up for a job interview and you couldn’t be more ready! You survived all the preliminary stuff and now you’ve got your foot in the door. You feel it, this job is the one.
Just make sure the first 8 minutes – that’s 480 seconds – of that job interview count. You’re under intense scrutiny from the minute you arrive and first impressions can easily become worst impressions and instantly make you an object of disinterest.
Here are eight ways – one a minute – to losing that job offer:
Let go already! Pulling a Donald Trump handshake will do you in. Forgo all Alpha like behaviour. “Some candidates think it’s a good idea to seize control of the interview and go overboard with alpha body language, including turning the interviewer’s questions around to ask their own questions,” says interview coach Pamela Skillings @biginterview. “I have seen this approach backfire many times. It tends to come across as overly aggressive and disrespectful. There are far better ways to show confidence.”
While you’re at it, steer clear of creepy eye contact and other off-putting nonverbal communication. Your body language says a whole lot about you as a potential employee and can definitely sabotage your chances. “I have had clients who translate eye contact into‘wide-eyed, unblinking attempt to stare into the interviewer’s very soul. This can definitely read as creepy,” says Skillings.
The early bird catches the worm. Not always! We all know that being late can destroy an interview, but not everyone knows that being more than 15 minutes early looks bad, too, says interview coach Thea Kelley, author of Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview. “Having someone sit in the waiting room for a half hour looks and feels awkward for everybody in the area.” Worse than being too early or late, is missing the interview). Timing is everything.
Enough already! No diarrhea of the mouth about an ugly breakup or nasty neighbour. When asked that critical and classic question “Tell me about yourself,” do not share personal information, rehash your resume, or be braggadocious. And don’t confuse this with a first date, says Skillings. “Your interviewer does not want to hear that you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. Many recent grads misconstrue the question and talk too much about their personal lives and hobbies.” To be sure you don’t fumble, then focus, script, and practice) before showing up.
Awkward silences get more awkward and costly. Small talk matters at the big job interview as it helps break the ice, puts others at ease, and demonstrates your conversational abilities. If it doesn’t come naturally, practice a couple of simple, safe conversation starters like “How was your weekend?” or “Is this a busy time for you?” or “What are you looking forward to this week?” suggests Kelley, of @theakelley and theakelley.com. Whatever response you get, really listen and reply in a way that shows you heard and are interested.
Play it too cool and you can bet the trail of job opportunities will go cold. You can end up coming across as bored and uninterested. Interviewers want to see that a candidate is excited about the opportunity, says Skillings, so avoid body language that is too casual, like slumping in your chair, hands behind the head or even feet up. Ditch the bored facial expressions and unenthusiastic tone of voice too.
Acting all desperate will do you in. While you can bet on mega competition for this job, be sure to hide that you are frantic and at the end of your employment rope. Do not offer to clean the bathrooms as an add-on to your job duties or to work for free for two months. Nothing worse than the stench of desperation. Like a first date, it’ll send prospects running.
You didn’t sleep last night and it shows! You look miserable. On top of that you got caught in traffic and are seething with stress. First-impression killers are numerous, according to Kelley, including being cold or phony to office staff, or saying “It’s great to meet you, Kerry,” when the interviewer’s name is Corey! Enough said. You need to be upbeat, authentic and on the ball.
Meanwhile, if you smell defeat as you speak, right the wrongs and try to get back on track before your time is up. You don’t only get one chance to make a great first impression, stresses Kelley. “The interview actually includes two first impressions. The handshake, smile and eye contact is the very first. Then there’s your answer to the interviewer’s first question. Focus that answer on what’s best about you, and make it count.”
Figure out what’s likely to make you stand out from the competition - your top three or four selling points - and proactively communicate and prove those points throughout the interview and afterwards, adds Kelley. “The best selling points have REV - they’re Relevant, Exceptional and Verifiable.” Answer all questions with experience and concrete examples that bring these selling points across.