By: Biron Clark
Most employers spend days or even weeks deciding if they want to hire you, but it only takes them a few seconds to rule you out. As an Executive Recruiter, I’ve seen first-hand some crucial missteps from interviewees that have cost them the job.
Here are four overlooked interview mistakes that are costing you job offers in the first 10 minutes of your interview.
You’re trying to decide mid-interview if you want the job
You should have one goal in your interview – sell yourself and get invited to the next round in the process. Here’s where many job seekers go wrong: They start trying to decide if they want the job while also trying to sell them self and impress the interviewer.
You can gather facts and ask questions to find out about the role (in fact you absolutely should), but never try to decide mid-interview if you’re interested or not. You’ll be distracted and won’t sell yourself as effectively.
I’ve seen this happen over and over as a Recruiter with the people I’ve coached and helped.
For example, you might hear something that worries you about the job, and your energy level will drop. You might stop trying to impress them. Later in the interview, you might hear a few great things and decide you are interested, but it’s too late – you didn’t seem excited about most of the interview and they’re not going to invite you to continue.
It’s better to get invited to continue interviewing at companies you’re not interested in than lose a single job offer you wanted because of this mistake. Wait until you’re home to decide whether you are interested in their job.
You don’t seem confident
People gather a first impression visually before anything else. Within the first one or two seconds of seeing you, the interviewer is judging you – even if they don’t realize it. By the time you’ve followed them down the hallway and sat down with them, they’ve already gathered a strong impression of you – whether it’s positive or negative.
This is the importance of a good handshake, posture and overall body language.
This isn’t something you can turn on-and-off at will; especially when you’re tense and nervous in an interview. So start thinking about body language in everyday conversations to prepare for your interviews. Try to keep your shoulders back and your head up straight. When you sit down, avoid tapping your hands or feet or doing anything else that will distract the interviewer. Practice maintaining eye contact before your interview too, especially while talking (most people find it easy to hold eye contact while listening, but much more difficult while talking).
Finally, make sure to show confidence in your abilities and your expertise when answering their questions.
You’re the expert in your field of work. If not, why would they hire you?
So show them you have great ideas to contribute and are ready to make an impact and use what you know to help them. This is what top employers look for.
You’re worrying if the interviewer likes you or not
People ask me all the time, “how will I know if my interview is going well?”
Here’s what I tell them: Don’t try.
Always assume it’s going well and the company is interested in you. If you start to worry, you’ll lose confidence and then you will do badly (even if you were doing fine before). Some interviewers are friendly to everyone, even if they have no interest in hiring you. Other interviewers show little or no emotion even if they think you’re the perfect fit for them.
So stop worrying, and just assume you’re giving great answers from start to finish. It’ll be one less thing to worry about and will make your answers come out better.
You didn’t ask enough questions
Now, you might be thinking, “hold on, Biron. I thought this article was about the first 10 minutes of the interview. I’m supposed to ask my questions at the end, right?”
That’s correct, but you should also ask questions throughout the interview.
Asking questions and gathering information shows them you’re confident in your ability to find a job, and picky about which employer you choose to work for (both good things!) So you want to mix questions into the conversation naturally, rather than waiting for them to invite you to do it. The simplest way to do this is to end some of your answers with a question directed back at them.
Here’s an example of how this might look:
Interviewer: “Why do you think you’re a good fit for this job?”
You: “Well, my biggest strength is in financial reporting, and from the job description, it seems like that’s an area you need help with right now. Is that right? And if so, can you tell me a little more about the team’s needs?”
Interviewer: “Yes, that’s right. Our biggest expert just retired and we don’t have enough people to do the work. We also need to make our reporting processes far more efficient.”
You: “Very interesting! My last company actually had a pretty inefficient reporting process when I joined three years ago and I worked with them to improve it. Do you have a sense of where the process can be improved most?”
This creates a natural dialogue where you can share your knowledge and start to be seen as an expert. You don’t need to do this with every question, but try to do it once within the first 10 minutes, and two or three times in each interview.
If you follow the advice above, you’ll stick in employers’ minds and make them much more likely to hire you.
About the author:
Biron is a career advice author, Founder of CareerSidekick.com, and former Executive Recruiter for more than 40 companies, including venture-funded tech startups and Fortune 500 companies across the US and Europe.