From submitting your resume to scheduling interviews and accepting a job offer, the hiring process can take weeks or months.
But it only takes employers a few seconds to rule you out during a job interview.
After working with hundreds of job seekers as a recruiter, I’ve been able to identify three common interview mistakes that are probably costing you job offers. Check them out below, along with advice on how to fix them.
Mistake No. 1: You Don’t Ask Good Questions
Employers want to hire candidates who are selective in their job searches — people who know what they want. The more desperate you seem, the less they’ll want you. Seeming like you don’t care what job you get is one of the fastest ways to lose an employer’s interest.
To present yourself as an engaged and discerning candidate, ask lots of great questions to determine if the job is truly a good fit for you. You don’t even have to wait until the end of the interview. In fact, it’s better to mix questions into the conversation whenever possible. For example, you can end a few of your interview answers with a question pointed back at the interviewer.
Let’s say the interviewer asks, “Why should we hire you for this position?”
You might reply, “I read the job description and saw it mentions a lot of data analysis and reporting. That’s my biggest strength, and I’ve helped my current employer set up our current data reporting system. Am I right in assuming this is a big need of yours? And if so, can you tell me more about the problems you’re facing?”
With an answer like this, you position yourself as an expert, show the interviewer you did your research before coming in, and turn the interview into a back-and-forth conversation. This is one of the best ways to stand out in the interview. You always want to be memorable, and you can do that by signaling to employers that you’re more confident, more skilled, and a better candidate than the people competing against you.
Mistake No. 2: You Research the Company/Job Just Enough to Get By
You can’t change your skill set overnight, and you’re not going to be the perfect fit for every job you interview for. That’s okay.
However, you do have complete control over how much you prepare for an interview. This is 100 percent effort — no talent required.
Ask yourself: “Am I going in with the goal of knowing just enough about the company to get by without making any big mistakes in the interview, or am I researching with the goal of knowing more about the company than anyone else in the running?”
Your answer to this question is going to determine the quality of job you get — and how soon you get it.
Interviewers can tell when you’ve done your research, and it makes them want to hire you — even if you’re not a perfect fit on paper. I’ve seen hiring managers create new positions for candidates because of how much they liked their personalities and soft skills! You never know what will happen if you put as much effort into preparing as possible.
I’d recommend going in ready to ask a question related to a recent news story about the company. Search the company’s name on Google News to surface some solid sources. You should also know who the company’s top 2-3 competitors are, what the company sells/how it makes money, when and why the company was founded, and anything else you can find on its website.
Mistake No. 3: You Try to Decide Whether You Want the Job Midway Through the Interview
If you want to get hired, you should have one goal in any interview: Sell yourself and get invited to continue in the process. The problem is most job seekers start trying to decide if they’re interested in the position while still in the interview.
Now, the interview is a two-way conversation. It is an opportunity to ask questions and gather information for yourself so you can decide whether the role is right for you. However, you should wait until you’re back in the comfort of your home to start trying to make that decision.
Often, when a job seeker hears something they don’t like in an interview — such as a longer-than-expected workday — they’ll stop trying to impress the employer right then and there. However, the job seeker might hear something else that excites them later in the interview — but by then it is too late. The hiring manager has already detected the lack of enthusiasm, and they’re made the choice to pass on you.
Use the interview to gather facts and ask questions, but take it all home and decide whether you’re interested later. The bottom line is it’s much better to get invited to continue interviewing for a job you’re not interested in than to lose out on a job you want because you were distracted in the interview.
If you follow these three tips, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition and start receiving more job offers from top employers.
Biron Clark is an executive recruiter, career coach, and founder of careersidekick.com.