How to fail to get a job at the interview stage

I’m sure that there are many ways to mess up an interview and not turning up would probably be high on the list but recent experience would point to some not quite so obvious ways:

Not answering the question put to you would be high on my list. If you don’t have the exact background required and maybe your experience is from a different sector, in my opinion, it is perfectly alright to respond to a question with a answer that begins something like; “Well, I don’t have any direct experience of the situation you are describing but I can tell you about something very similar that I encountered and dealt with a short time ago. Would that be OK?”

If you have to do this as a response to every question then maybe you should be concerned that the role is not for you or it may be that the interviewer has totally disconnected from the brief that told him you were from a different sector but had transferable skills.

However, if you fail to acknowledge the thrust of the question and simply respond with something entirely different just to impart information that you think is relevant to the situation (but really isn’t) you will surely “crash and burn”. There will be time enough at the end of the interview to impart any information that you feel is particularly relevant but has been missed out.

Also high on my list would be responding to the interviewing process from the point of view of getting the line manager’s job instead (succession planning taken to the extreme). It is all well and good to demonstrate that you have higher skills than the role on offer but taken to the extreme, as has happened, the only predictable outcome will be “but we wanted him to do the role we were interviewing for and he failed to demonstrate that he could deliver this”. My advice is to get the job on offer as a priority and address all your efforts to this end. Talk about your higher level skills at the end and then only in passing as an acknowledgement to a hidden agenda.

Thirdly and not lastly as I expect to add to this list over time, is the need to arrive fairly fresh and ready to impress. In these days of business stress it is easy to say “remember what you need to do”. However, if you start your day at 08.00 with a series of meetings and then travel to an interview in the afternoon, you may well find yourself flagging a little come 16.00. So, allow journey time, nap time or whatever you need to get yourself in the correct mood. Sales people need to impress all the time and operations people need to appear sharp too. Failure to make a good impression will only result in one outcome.

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