There was a Globe and Mail story that showed up in my news alerts about a dozen times today titled “I’ve had 16 job interviews, but no offers. What am I missing?”
“I bet I can guess,” I thought to myself.
The two responses from authors Bruce Sandy (Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver) and Billy Anderson (Founder, the Courage Crusade, Toronto) are quite comprehensive and well thought out, covering a range of bases from “Why not ask the people with whom you interviewed?” to “Leverage your contacts,” and “Work with a career coach on your communication skills and interview style.” (All quotes are paraphrased.)
But it’s really that last one comes close to addressing what I suspect the real problem is. So, I thought I’d throw my two cents into the pot, for what it’s worth (which I hope turns out to be more than two cents for someone out there).
I think that if you have been on 16 interviews and have not gotten one job offer, it’s because people don’t like you.
And if you want to get a job, you better fix that, stat.
Maybe you’re coming across as rude, unenthusiastic, cockey, smug, lazy, or arrogant. Maybe you really are none of these things but that doesn’t change the fact that, whatever it is your emitting, interviewers are getting turned off by something about your personality. This applies to anyone who is going on interview after interview and not getting the job. You have to figure out why you’re turning people off.
Here’s the thing, by the time you are called in for an interview the employer already knows what your experience, skills, and qualifications are. While there might be gaps and things to clarify, they have a pretty good idea already of what you have done. If this isn’t evident from your application materials, you’re not going to get an interview.
What this means is, no, it’s not because you’re “overqualified,” something the letter writer wonders about in his or her question. You might miss out on one or two jobs after an interview because you’re overqualified, but not 16.
No. They already know how qualified you are. What they want to know, is whether they like you, whether they trust you, whether they can work with you, and whether you will fit in with the other employees.
It’s possible that you’re just really better at selling yourself in writing than in person. Employers want to hear you describe your triumphs and achievements in story form to assess your confidence levels and abilities, as well as how well you organize your thoughts. But sales is also about likability. You have to take a good, hard look at how you’re coming across and figure out how to fix it.
Are you listening? Are you interrupting? Are you too loud, too quiet, too arrogant, too shy? Do you seem enthusiastic about the position and have you done your research on the organization by the time you show up for the interview? Nothing says laziness and lack of interest like no preparation. Employers hate that. Likability isn’t just about being friendly and confident. It’s about going the extra mile and showing up prepared. Likeable candidates are candidates who make the interviewer’s life easy.
Here are just some of the things employers like in candidates:
Being well-groomed, presentable
Friendliness and warmth
Ability to listen
Ability to communicate
Punctuality (don’t be early, don’t be late)
Well organized thoughts
Ask yourself what you would want in a hire, and try to be that. If you are the most likeable candidate, you will probably get the job, even if you’re overqualified.
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