Everything you do when you are looking for a new job should be directed toward one central goal: getting the job offer. You may decide not to accept the offer, but you still have to receive the offer before you can make that decision.
Getting an offer gives you a bargaining edge because the employer has demonstrated that he or she likes you and wants you to work for the organization. You now have leverage in negotiating salary, benefits and whatever other workplace factors may be important to you.
It is surprising how many people remove themselves from consideration before they even get a job offer, by bringing up negatives. During the job interview, for example, you should never say that you cannot do something or have no interest in something. The right responses are, "I would consider it," or, "I would like to learn more about that area," or "Let me tell you about something I did in a similar vein..."
Mistakes to Avoid
A manager I know interviewed for a position with a large corporation in a department where there were a number of different jobs. During the interview, the head of the department went through a checklist of different jobs, asking the job candidate to indicate whether he had experience or interest in any of them. Practically none of the jobs named was to the candidate’s liking, so he indicated no interest. None of them was the job for which he was applying, but he made such a negative impression on the interviewer that he was not offered a job.
Many people think they must provide a full answer to that classic interview question, "What don’t you do well?" It is just about the last thing you want to do in a job interview. We are all taught from the time of childhood that modesty is a value, but it has no place in job hunting. Everything you do or say should be positive. As far as you are concerned, there are no negatives. You may have only half an hour or less to convince an employer that you are wonderful. If you do not, who else will? You do not accomplish that objective by talking about what you do not do well. If you are pressed for an answer, one response might be, "I like to work with other people. I would not do well shut off in a back room somewhere."
Many job hunters make a negative impression by being impatient. I recall one manager who had applied for a job at a branch location, made a good impression on the head of the office, and was invited to interview at the firm’s headquarters in another city. He spent most of the day being interviewed by various people and touring the company’s facilities. At one point he was asked to revisit an area where he had been earlier in the day. His reply was, "I have already seen that." He could tell by the red flush on his host’s face that he had made a bad impression.
Although he was treated courteously for the remainder of his time there, he sensed that he had made a serious mistake from which he would not be able to recover. What difference would it make if the employer showed him the same area four times? The employer felt it was important, and that is all that counts. The candidate has no license to shut off the employer. That is what happened in this situation.
When the jobseeker returned home and checked with the head of the local office, the company no longer had any interest in hiring him. Small wonder; he had blown a good opportunity.
Humility Before Pride
One of the truisms of job hunting is that you leave your ego at the door when you go in to be interviewed. But a large number of jobseekers bring it with them, causing all kinds of negative situations that promptly remove them from consideration for the job. For example, there are applicants who may feel they are doing the company a favor by interviewing with them! These individuals are so convinced they are superior that the main consideration is whether they have any interest in the company, not vice versa.
It is true that you need to demonstrate self-confidence when you are interviewing and you should not be reluctant to show that you are sure of your abilities. Employers want people who are aggressive and self-confident, but not to the point of giving the impression that they are granting the employer a privilege by providing an opportunity to hire them. It just does not work that way. There are too many qualified people available who are willing to prove their value by demonstrating what they have done for previous employers, and too many who are eager to support the goals and objectives of the prospective employer for anyone in a hiring capacity to worry about the super-egotist.
Another manifestation of an uncontrolled ego is the individual who monopolizes the conversation with the interviewer to the point that the interviewer cannot get the information he or she needs. If you talk incessantly, you are creating an extremely negative impression and coming across as a know-it-all or someone who is completely concerned with self rather than the job for which you are interviewing.
No So Fast
You may possess considerable knowhow in the industry and the specific job for which you are interviewing, and you should show the employer that you have outstanding qualifications – but not to the point that you tell him or her how to run the business. All that does is raise a red flag in the employer’s mind that instantly takes you out of the running.
You may have some definite ideas about how operations can be improved, especially if you are applying to a firm that is a competitor of your former employer. However, exercise restraint and keep them to yourself until after you are hired. Even then, it is risky for a newcomer to attempt to tell others who have been on the job for years how they can do things better, without causing resentment. Rather than plunge ahead and try to show off your knowledge, bide your time. There will be times when suggestions will be welcomed. During the job interview and immediately after you have started a new job are usually not the appropriate times.
Many people are not aware that they are making a bad impression when they offer suggestions to a prospective employer. They are quite sincere in trying to demonstrate their expertise, in the hopes that it will raise their stature in the eyes of the employer. In most cases, the reverse is true.
Elimination of negative factors in the job interview will go far toward raising your stature over other candidates and helping ensure you’re the one who gets the job offer.