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7 Reasons You Bombed Your Last Interview

7 Reasons You Bombed Your Last Interview

Everyone knows the feeling: You walked into an interview thinking This is it, I’m gonna wow ’em. The process went pretty much as you expected, and you were told you’d be getting a call in the near future if they think you’re right for the job. Days go by. Then weeks. Then you click over to the company’s Twitter page, only to be crushed to see a recent tweet about how happy they are to be welcoming so-and-so on board — in the position you had interviewed for.

What could possibly have gone wrong? Well, when you think about it, there are so many possible ways for things to go wrong during an interview. Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up. Just give it some thought — do any of the following gaffes apply to your interview?

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1. You were a poor cultural fit

You may be incredibly skilled, with all the qualifications listed for a position, and still not get a call back. Think about the people you interviewed with, what the typical clientele would be, and how you may or may not fit in with the overall culture of the company. It may not be anything personal, but if you’re not part of a company’s target demographic, you probably wouldn’t be able to relate to your colleagues and customers well enough to be productive. Do yourself a favor and read up on what a company is all about before you apply for a position.

2. You were overzealous

You definitely want to come off as excited when stepping into an office for an initial interview, but you don’t want to be so excited that you cut your interviewer off, trip over your words, and speak without thinking. You might really be a master at your craft, knowing exactly what the interviewer will ask and how you will respond. But, you need to take a breath, internalize the question, and craft your answer before blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Doing so will show your interviewer that you’re calm and collected under pressure, that you are able to step back and analyze a problem before jumping into a solution.

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3. You came off as needy

Think of that “Overly Attached Girlfriend” meme. Just as being incredibly needy in a relationship is a good way to send the other person running, coming off as if you absolutely need a job is a huge turnoff for an interviewer. You should do your best to play hard to get when coming in for an interview. If you act as if this interview is the first one you’ve been on in months, that throws up a red flag to your potential employer. On the other hand, if you act like you have five other interviews lined up in the next week, that shows you’re incredibly marketable, and would be a valuable asset to any company.

4. You need training

Most jobs require at least a short time period in which you’ll shadow a veteran to learn the ropes. But, if you walk into an interview saying “I’ve used Microsoft Word in college, but never had much use for Excel,” you might as well end the interview right there — these are basics that you should already be proficient with. The training you do need should be specific to that company. For example, being trained to use their intranet system or a program that’s not used outside of that specific industry. You shouldn’t need to be taught the basic functions of your position. Regardless of how much of a “quick-learner” you claim to be, there’s somebody else interviewing that already knows how to do the job, and they’ll be the ones moving on.

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5. You suffer from “What’s in it for me?” syndrome

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but nobody in this world owes you anything unless you have something you can give back to them. Just because you graduated from a prestigious university doesn’t mean you should expect to be hired onto a company in any position higher than entry-level. The fact that you hold a bachelor’s degree simply shows you have the intelligence and drive to be a success. You’ll still have to prove yourself. The biggest mistake you can make is walking into an interview thinking you already have the job locked up with a lofty salary and two weeks of paid vacation. You have to earn it.

6. You weren’t the best candidate

There are seven billion people in this world. Unless you hold a World Record, you simply are not the most talented person in the world at what you do. This isn’t meant to be a slant against your abilities, it’s meant to bring you back down to Earth. But don’t be disheartened by it, either. You don’t know the conversation that went on behind closed doors. They might have narrowed it down to you and one other individual, and the decision came down to a coin flip — I would hope that this isn’t how major business decisions are made, but I can certainly imagine it happening. The best you can do is keep in touch with the company to make sure you stay on their radar the next time a similar position opens up.

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7. The job wasn’t right for you

Think about it: If the people you interviewed with didn’t want to hire you, would you really want to work there anyway? If they didn’t think you were a good fit for the position or the company, there’s no reason to think you’d be happy if they took a chance on you. Don’t give up hope and stop applying elsewhere. Use what you learned from the interviews that didn’t pan out to improve for the next ones. I know jobs are scarce nowadays, but if you persevere and keep looking, you’ll find the one that’s right for you eventually.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm5.staticflickr.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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