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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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