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Errors That Cost Job Offers

"Errors That Cost Job Offers

These are a sample of mistakes most commonly made during an interview. Eliminate these and your opportunities increase dramatically!

Not Listening
Several years ago I met a professional interviewer at a friend's barbecue. When she learned the nature of my business, she began to talk about some of the problems she encountered on a daily basis. "I interviewed a very able gentleman today. He had great answers," she smiled. "Unfortunately his answers had nothing to do with the questions I was asking!" Hmm, I thought, a classic poor listener.

Listen. . .Replay. . .Decide. . .Respond.
Too many people think they know what the question is going to be just by hearing the first few words of the sentence. Instead of paying attention to the whole question, they quit listening and begin to plan their answer.

There will be subtle differences in questions that could cause you to answer incorrectly if you are not listening carefully. "Tell me about a company policy that you didn't agree with" could elicit a different response than "Tell me about a company policy that you didn't agree with and were able to change."

For these reasons, you must listen carefully to each question. Do not lag behind the interviewer by worrying that you just said something wrong. Do not get ahead of the interviewer by anticipating questions. Use the tactic LRDR:

  • Listen (to the entire question)
  • Replay (the question in your mind)
  • Decide (on an appropriate response)
  • Respond (using an appropriate story)

Thoughtful silence will not cause the interviewer any concern, especially if your response actually answers the question!

Trying To Lead The Interview
Although you do have a great deal of control over the information you provide, it is the interviewer who should choose the topic of conversation and lead the discussion.

I had one client who was told that one of the reasons he did not get a certain job was because he was not a good listener. When we first sat down to discuss this comment, he had no idea what he had done to give this impression. Through our discussion we finally realized that he had been so nervous that the minute he met the interviewer, he had started talking. We came to the conclusion that in his attempt to appear friendly, he had appeared frantic and overbearing. He had so much information he wanted to share that he just began talking and gave the impression of trying to lead the interview. It is important to be friendly, but follow the lead of the interviewer. If they make small talk, of course you should join the conversation. If there is no small talk, don't talk just to break the silence.

Venting Personal Frustrations
Although you are in the interview to talk about yourself, now is not the time to explain how things should have gone in your life. It is not that interviewers are unsympathetic, but we have all had our share of hard times. The purpose of the interview is for you to give information, not gather sympathy.

If you are asked about a difficult situation (Why were you out of your career field for two years?), do not use this as an opportunity to give reasons why you think things went wrong: "The economy was lousy and no one would give me a chance because I didn't have my degree."

Don't talk just to break the silence
Be professional and factual in your answers: "The job market was tight and there was intense competition. I had not yet received my degree, so that also lessened my opportunities."

Although you do not want to dwell on difficult situations, do not go overboard and try to make your life appear as though you have never encountered difficult decisions, problems, or conflicts. This type of presentation is unrealistic, unbelievable, and will be perceived as canned.

It is important to leave the interviewer with the impression that "Yes it was a difficult time/terrible situation. This is how I handled myself and what I learned from the situation. But, that is behind me and I am looking forward to new challenges."

Speaking Poorly Of Others
If you speak ill of past employers, co-workers, teachers, etc., the interviewer will immediately suspect that you may also speak poorly of this company, including the interviewers, someday.

Not Being Professional
All the people you come in contact with are professionals within their field. Any hint of rudeness on your part will not be tolerated. In addition, this is not the time to look for favors or to ask for special treatment.

I heard about one applicant who, while sitting in the waiting room, interrupted a busy secretary and asked for more sugar for his coffee. (Gee, I wonder if he got hired?) Also, it is never, under any circumstances, appropriate to use profanity. (Even if you are relating a story and someone else said it - never use profanity!)

Losing Your Focus
It seems every industry is a small, close-knit community. It is not uncommon to bump into a friend or acquaintance in the company's offices while you are waiting for your interview. It is easy to slip into unsuitable conversations. Be careful of reminiscing, gossiping about other people, or bemoaning the state of the job market. Once again, always remember where you are (at a competitive interview) and why you are there (to get a great job!). Do not let outside circumstances push you off track or allow you to lose your focus.

Not Sharing Your Attention
If you are being interviewed by two or more people, make sure you acknowledge them all. A good rule of thumb is to give the person who asked the question 60 percent of the eye contact, the silent person 40 percent.

A common situation is to be interviewed by a man and a woman. People are still making the mistake of giving the man more of their attention. Not only is this rude, it does not say much for the applicant's communication and team orientation skills.

- Cheryl Cage"

<Note from JobFairy.com: It's important to retain control over the information you'll be feeding them. Of course you've had difficult situations, but nothing you couldn't handle. Never badmouth anyone. In fact, every boss you've had is more wonderful than the last. Why, you can't believe your incredible luck at having had great bosses. You don't want to overdo it, but a really positive attitude (with blatant disregard for the facts, natch) is often the deciding factor.>

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· All the Articles II
· All the Articles III
· All the Articles IV
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· Details of the Money Split of Your Pay
· Dress Code for the Interview
· Dressing For Interview Success
· Errors That Cost Job Offers


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