Sometimes it seems that my job as a career coach more closely resembles a career “doctor” for certain job seekers who come to me with their aches and pains of job search. I try to track their symptoms so I can understand their issues and help give them a treatment plan to get them back on their feet.
Many job seekers would agree that interviews are the most painful part of the hiring process. It often leaves you with more questions than answers: “What did I say wrong? What did I forget to mention? I thought it went great — what should I be doing differently? Why haven’t I heard anything yet?”
I recently spoke with a job seeker suffering from just that. Walking through his approach to the entire interview process, we were able to identify opportunities for him to improve what he’s doing before his interview, during his interaction with a hiring manager and the steps to take once the interview has concluded.
Job seeker symptom: “I feel like I’m not connecting with the interviewer.”
Diagnosis: Failure to research the company, industry, interviewer(s) and employees.
Prescription: Candidates who walk into an interview and ask surface level, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions can come off as lazy or careless to a recruiter or hiring manger. By digging deeper into the company’s industry, competitors and what current employees have to say about the environment, you can decipher some more meaningful questions that allow you to determine whether the company is up to your standards when it comes to places you want to work. Remember – being prepared isn’t the same as being pompous. You’re not trying to grill the interviewer but instead create a great dialogue.
Job seeker symptom: “The interview feels like an interrogation.”
Diagnosis: Failure to comfortably talk about one’s self.
Prescription: An interview is a conversation. While nerves can set you on edge to feel like you’re up against the wall, take a breath and realize that you’ve made it this far. Avoid stress through practicing interviews with common interview questions. Review your résumé and consider how you can talk about each of those points with an example or story of how you reached those achievements. The more comfortable you are talking about yourself as it relates to the position, the more at ease you will be, making way for a confident interview experience.
Job seeker symptom: “Follow up is useless!”
Diagnosis: Skipping a crucial step in being memorable.
Prescription: Last month, I emphasized the importance of sending thank-you notes after every interview. If you do this and didn’t get the job it doesn’t mean you should stop sending thank-you notes. It is the essential final step to marketing yourself and is proper etiquette for any interview. If you aren’t offered the position, reflect on what you’re doing before and during the interview. You should also ask the interviewer what you can do to improve for future interviews as part of your job search. While many companies do have legal restrictions regarding feedback, any information they can share will help you better prepare for future opportunities.
If you’ve matched any of these symptoms, don’t worry — they’re common and can be cured. If you are proactive in practicing interviews and doing your research, learning how to behave in an interview and using proper follow-up techniques, you can have a healthy job search.