This past year, our team had a job opening. Since the final say and ultimate hiring power lay with my boss, she asked me to collect resumes and conduct first round interviews and pass along my selections.
Here’s a quick tip: just because your initial interview isn’t with the “big boss” does not mean that your first interviewer has no say in the outcome! My boss welcomed my input when making the final decision and wound up taking my advice – and my warnings – very seriously.
I have conducted countless interviews over the last few years. I’ve interviewed people for positions on our staff; I’ve helped other executives interview for positions on theirs. From this vantage point on the other side of the table, I’ve learned a LOT about interviewing – here are three things to avoid when interviewing for a job.
DONT Be Difficult to Schedule
While many people jump at the opportunity to interview for a job, you would be surprised how difficult some interviews are to schedule. I’ve had candidates who can’t seem to carve out time in their schedule to prioritize the interview – and this is an immediate red flag for me. If I have to send multiple emails back and forth with you to find a time that works to meet, a few things are happening:
- I’m losing interest. The exchange is making my job difficult, and it’s not setting us up for a positive initial in-person encounter
- Your messaging suggests that you’re not fully interested in the job, either
First of all – there are always outlying circumstances. If you have a complicated schedule due to work and/or family matters, BE UP FRONT about them. If the initial email you receive is a simple invitation to interview with no requested time slot, you have a window to request the parameters. For example:
Thank you so much for contacting me about this potential job opportunity. I would be thrilled to come in and meet with you. I wanted to make you aware that Tuesdays and Thursdays are difficult for me. If it’s possible to schedule on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, I would so appreciate it.
If the response is no, I would highly suggest finding a way to make their requested time work, if this is a job you truly want. I have had candidates make scheduling requests multiple times before we finally landed on a date and time, and while I did follow through with the interview, the initial interactions left me leery of their commitment to the job. I know this sounds hardcore, but the fact of the matter is, there are tens of hundreds of people clamoring for every job position. If I have the slightest inkling that working with you might prove difficult or complicated, it’s going to leave me hesitant to hire you.
DONT Show Up Late to Your Interview
Another seemingly straightforward directive, but again – I’m sharing these tips because I’ve seen them happen. If you are going to carve time out of your day and the interviewer’s day to meet, then be respectful of everyone’s time. In her book, Seriously… I’m Kidding, Ellen Degeneres discusses her disdain for tardiness, saying that the act of being late carries the implication that your time is more important than everyone else’s.
This is not a good note on which to kick off an interview.
You would be shocked to know that I’ve had individuals be extremely difficult to schedule and then show up late to their interview. Messaging is everything here. I want to work with people who:
- Are eager and flexible
- Work well in a team
- Have a consistently strong work ethic
- Meet deadlines
- Have a great attitude
If it takes twenty emails to schedule you and THEN you show up late, it suggests to me that numbers 1-4 might not describe you. Remember: the interview starts the minute you receive my invitation to come in – NOT when you walk in the door of my office.
DONT Rely on Nepotism or Recommendations
Here’s the thing: recommendations make the world go round. They are necessary. A qualified person being hired for a job because of their connections is a display of excellent networking. An UNQUALIFIED person being hired because they knew someone is a different story!
A recommendation from someone I know will get someone an interview with me – it won’t necessarily get that person hired. I have seen people bank so hard on their connections that they completely throw the interview. They don’t ask insightful questions. They don’t discuss their value add. They don’t share what interests them about the position. Their confidence in the power of our mutual connection results in a lazy and apathetic meeting. It immediately flags me because it suggests to me that this person is used to borrowing power to move through life rather than cultivating their own power.
I have had many doors open to me because of the people I’ve met along the way. But I’ve recognized that once those doors are opened, what I do when I walk through them is entirely up to me. Don’t get complacent. Make your introduction work FOR you – not against you.