3 Simple Absolute Musts In A Job Interview

Interviewing is an art more than a science. Like most art, there are the Van Gogh’s and then there are those that work hard but never reach a professional level. They may still be good, just not good enough.

I think that is the way most candidates approach the interviewing process. They think they are good, when in fact, most are not good enough. This is especially evident when a candidates tells me, “I’m getting interviews but just not getting the job.”  To me, that rings out loud and clear, you need to take a look at your interviewing skills.

Here are three things I find missing with candidates in an interview.

1) Confidence I find this lacking, especially with candidates that have been in a job search for a long time. As they become more and more desperate they tend to exude less and less confidence. This comes across in a number of ways that I believe most candidates don’t even realize. For example, body language,  how you sit in the chair, eye contact, tone of voice, confidence in answering questions, staying so general in the answer for fear that getting too specific or detailed may rule you out, or giving long rambling answers so as to encompass everything in the hope that you have covered what they are looking for.

Nobody wants to hire a person that isn’t confident. This is especially true at the manager level and up. Few want someone that comes across so weak they will not voice an opinion.

With candidates I coach, I always recommend  interviewing the same way you would if you had a great job and didn’t need the one you are interviewing for. I believe this helps in bringing out the real you. Most candidates act differently on the job than in an interview, so it is very important that the interviewer sees you as you would be on the job.

2) Questions In many ways this is a symptom of confidence. Why is it when an interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” candidates often say, “No not right now.” I don’t understand that.  This clearly demonstrates weakness, lack of interest, or lack of understanding of the position, any of which gets one knocked out of the running.

This is your opportunity to shine, to demonstrate your depth of understanding, to probe, to engage, get clarification, and basically stand out. I think one of two things stops candidates from asking questions; 1) fear that they may appear to be too confrontational or challenging or 2) lack of preparation. Either one is generally not going to help the candidate win the interview.

All candidates should be well prepared with questions. There are so many areas that  you can ask good questions about that will help separate you from all of those that don’t. This is so important that in our candidate job search workbook  “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” we have over 135 questions to ask in over seven different categories. That demonstrates the importance of asking questions in the interview.

3) Preparation This is probably the solution to the first two.  Taking the time to properly prepare is the biggest problem I have discovered over and over again that candidates fail to do or do properly. Poor preparation is just as bad as no preparation. Here are some stats I have been keeping as I have asked candidates about their preparation.

A) Less than 5% of candidates have actually written out answers to the most basic questions that they know will be asked in an interview.

B) Less than 1% have actually video recorded themselves interviewing.

C) Less than 1% have conducted mock interviews.

D) Less than 10% prepared questions they wanted to ask during an interview.

E) Less than 20% have asked others for feedback after an interview that they didn’t get.

F) Less than 10% have identified any weaknesses in their interviewing style.

G) Less than 2% know all of the three things that can be measured during a phone interview.

H) Less than 10% can give very detailed answers about the bullet points on their resume.

I) Less than 1% have even considered body language in preparing for an interview.

J) Less than 5% prepare for an interview the right way.

K) Less than 50% know they have a weak handshake or poor eye contact.

Not everyone makes all of these, but to my surprise most make many of them. This is why candidates are often not good enough at interviewing.

You can get our Candidate Job Search Workbook for FREE (just pay $5 shipping). You can review the questions, read the multiple chapters on interviewing, and even learn the ten must ask questions in an interview. CLICK HERE to learn how to get your workbook sent to you for just the cost of shipping.

Download our sample cover letter. This will help make sure your resume aligns with the position, and recruiters appreciate this style. It is free.  CLICK HERE to get yours.

Finally our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group is free to join and all are welcome. This group has over 3,800 members and a wealth of articles, job postings and discussions to help you. CLICK HERE to join the group.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard


About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.

1 Comment

  • By Chris Sutherland, February 8, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    Very true. I find myself fitting into many of your A-K stats. I used to be able to wing it and make a very serious impression. In today’s market however, there a lot of great candidates and you just have to do a lot more homework to stand out. If you really want a great job, then do the appropriate level of homework.

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