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8 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Job Interviews

you've heard the obvious job interview advice:  Don't be late, Don't dress inappropriately, and Don't curse your former employer.  you've been around the block—you know this stuff.

What ELSE might be going wrong?  Here are a few things I've observed in my years of working with clients.

1) Not being prepared to discuss money
They may screen you out because you were making too much or too little, concluding that you won't be happy with the salary or the job demands exceeds your skill level.  This is a big topic for another day.  Be sure to read Jack Chapman's book,Negotiating Your Salary:  How to Make $1,000 a Minute

2) Not being able to articulate your skills
I've seen a lot of very accomplished people who can't articulate their skills, especially people who haven't had to look for work in a long time. They been so busy doing, that they haven't had to think about articulating what they do to be successful. 

This is a time for some real introspection.  A lot of people find this to be a tough process.  Get some coaching if this doesn't come easily. Unless you can clearly articulate how you produce value, your chances of getting hired are close to nil. 

A good example is a technical writer who worked for a software company.  She talked about herself as a technical writer. But as we delved into her accomplishments, it became clear that she produces value at a much higher level.  She now talks about herself as someone who "saves lots of time and money by eliminating the guesswork about what end users want and need."

3) No good, concise stories
Many people make very impressive accomplishments sound ordinary. Others have stories that go on and on and on—boring!  Still others just get tongue tied.

You should have at least eight clear and concise stories that powerfully show you in action. Some people call these PAR stories: problem-action-results.  Don't just tell them WHAT you did.  Take it a step further and answer the question, "Why should people care about what you did?" 

Suppose you organized a move of 30 employees to a new location. Great that you did it, but take it a step further.  How do you measure success?  The new office could have been a chaotic mess, but with you on the job, people hit the ground running on the first day in the new location.

4) Talking techno-speak
if you're in a technical field; remember that some interviews may be conducted by non-technical people--HR for instance.  Consequently, you need to be prepared to speak in "dialects:" one for the technical people and one for the people who need plain English. Some people Don't understand what a turnoff it is to listen while someone drones on using words and concepts they Don't understand. Don't make their eyes glaze over. This is particularly important for those whose jobs involve communicating with non-technical people. 

5) Not doing your homework about the company
An even worse turnoff is someone who doesn't know what the organization is about. The more important the job, the more time you should spend on research. Of course, review the company's own website, but search for other sites to see what you can find, especially if the company has been in the news. Find out about the company's mission, strategic goals, and new developments to understand where the company is headed. Check the web sites of competitors to find out more about industry trends. Sites like can give you good inside information from company employees about company culture and even how they conduct job interviews.  [Funny story:  a client and I looked at for info on a company which had contacted her for an interview. It was full of bitter complaints about the owners' management skills and unethical behavior. She declined the interview]. 

6) Not Doing your homework about the interviewers
This is a chance for you to score some extra points. If you know in advance who the individual (s) is who will be conducting your interview, read up on him/her.  With LinkedIn, company web pages, and other Internet sources, there's ample opportunity to come to the interview armed with a good idea of the backgrounds, accomplishments and passions of those conducting your interview.  

7) Not having a good answer for the sensitive questions
If you Don't handle these questions right, you're dead in the water. The good news is that most of the time, you know what these questions will be in advance—so be prepared! Sensitive questions include: 
Why were you fired?  Why the gap on your resume?  Why have you been out of work so long? 
What have you been doing since you lost your job?

Follow these steps:

A. Listen to the question
Make sure you understand exactly what the interviewer is asking and why.  If you're not clear, ask for clarification.. 
B. Take time to think
If caught off guard, pause a moment and give a thoughtful response.
C. Use Positive Information
Use positive information to put yourself in a favorable light.  Be truthful, but remember, you are marketing yourself.  Don't volunteer negative information. For example, Jane is moving across the country to reunite with her high school flame, but she should keep such personal details private. 
D. Refocus attention by asking a question of your own 
Don't let the conversation linger on your liabilities. Take the initiative to refocus attention by asking the employer a question.

Here's an example from a man who was fired.  

"I've always been committed to quality. During my years at my former company, our customers could always count on top quality and prompt delivery—no excuses. Then, new management began cutting corners, our quality suffered, and frankly, I was embarrassed. They decided it would be best if I moved on and let me go.  In hindsight, I agree it was best for everyone.  I wish them well. Now, I'm looking for an employer who shares my commitment to quality and customer service. Can you tell me about your philosophy in those areas?" 

8) Being Cocky
Some people go into interviews with a cocky attitude. They're good at what they do, they know it, and they communicate that they're somehow above the process.  Some others feel they Don't need to prepare because "I'm really good at interviewing."  Others underestimate what's coming and say, "I'll just wing it." None of this wins you friends—and it won't get you hired.  It's important to roll up your sleeves and get to work. 

Thorough preparation wows employers and makes you a top candidate.  

Call today if you're 1) Afraid you're not adequately prepared for interviews   2)  In a Job that's not working for you for any reason.  847 673 0339.  



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