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The Worst Thing You Can Do On A Job Interview By Liz Ryan (16262 hits)

By Liz Ryan, Forbes | November 22, 2015

Everyone who interviews job-seekers for a living has stories about crazy things that job-seekers have done on job interviews. I have dozens of stories — too many of them to recall.

It’s fun to tell stories, but just because people do random things on job interviews doesn’t mean they won’t be hired for the job.

There was the lovely young man, Tim, who responded to a job ad I had posted for a Financial Analyst. I was an HR manager, about thirty years old at the time.

I called Tim on the phone and we chatted for half an hour. At the end of the call I said “Tim, are you free to come here and meet me and some of our managers on Tuesday at three p.m.?” Tim said that would work.

On Tuesday at three p.m. our receptionist called me in my office and said that Tim had arrived and was waiting for me. I zipped down the hall to the lobby, where Tim sat waiting on a couch in the reception area. “Ms. Ryan?” he asked as he rose from his seat. “Is it you? You sounded so much younger on the phone!”

My colleagues and I had a laugh about that story, but Tim got the job. You’re not supposed to curse at a job interview, but sometimes job applicants really get into a story they’re telling and they let a curse word fly – but that doesn’t mean they won’t get hired.

You’re not supposed to keep the interviewer waiting, but it happens and talented people still get the jobs they came to get. Pretty much everything we’re instructed never, ever to do in a job interview is surmountable.

You can make a lot of ‘mistakes’ as a job-seeker at a job interview and still get the job if it’s obvious that you are the best person for the role.

I’ve gotten post-interview thank-you notes in the mail that used the wrong company name (not our company’s name) and we still made the letter-writer a job offer. Hey — at least the candidate took the time to write a letter! Anyone can make a clerical mistake.

The one mistake you can’t afford to make on a job interview is to disappear into the chair. This is the most common mistake job-seekers make. They focus so much on pleasing the interviewer that their personality and their point of view disappear completely.

They become Sheepie Job Seekers, the easiest kind to forget entirely the minute the interview is over. Here’s how a Sheepie Job Seeker interview sounds:

INTERVIEWER: So, Alex, have you worked with Excel very much?

ALEX: Not too much – a little – but I’m a fast learner!

INTERVIEWER: Okay. Tell me about your experience with Accounts Payable.

ALEX: I process invoices for vendors now. I handle fourteen vendors. I reconcile vendor invoices with our Purchase Orders and department budgets.

INTERVIEWER: What do you feel are your strongest points?

ALEX: I’m loyal, hard-working and responsible and I walk old ladies across the street.

Alex is probably the nicest person in the world, but there’s very little in this interview to distinguish Alex from any other banana in the bunch. Let’s try the interview script again. This time, Alex shows up as a real person rather than trying to please the interviewer by giving the “right” answer to each question.

INTERVIEWER: So, Alex, have you worked with Excel very much?

ALEX: Here’s my story regarding Excel. I didn’t use it a lot in school — well, I never took an Accounting class in college, since I was a theater major, but I had a temp job in my senior year and I learned Excel on the job. I taught myself to build reports and also how to nest reports one inside the other. Now, of course, I use Excel every day and I love to teach other people how to use it. How do you use Excel here?

INTERVIEWER: We use Oracle so we don’t do a lot with Excel, but I always figure that if a person can learn Excel they can pretty much learn any logical reporting system.

ALEX: Is your new hire going to create reports as part of the job?

INTERVIEWER: It’s hard to say, but certainly he or she will work with them. Tell me about your Accounts Payable experience.

ALEX: I probably spend fifteen percent of my time on Accounts Payable — my CFO threw that part of the job at me because I had some spare time around my customer support work and he knows I don’t mind maintaining databases, which is how I do the A/P part of my job.

I guess I pay around fifteen vendors — it doesn’t take very long. I make sure they’re paid on time and the expenses are recorded in the department budgets. Are you looking for this new hire to take on Accounts Payable here?

INTERVIEWER: The company is growing so we’re always looking for people to help out in various ways. The reason I asked about Accounts Payable is that this is not strictly an Accounting role, as you know, but we always have vendors in the mix and I need someone who can take of their billing and get them paid so we never miss a shipment. Our inventory levels are critical to our success. We can’t be out of stock.

ALEX: Can you tell me more about that?

INTERVIEWER: Sure! Here’s how it works….

The worst mistake you can make in a job interview is to sit meekly in your chair, answer each question that’s asked of you and then fall silent and wait for the next question. A strong job interview, like Alex’s second interview script above, is a human conversation. Everybody asks questions and everybody learns something.

You are interviewing your next employer just as surely as they are interviewing you. Your goal on a job interview is to get past the scripted questions and into a real conversation to learn as much as you can and to let the interviewer see your brain working.

Can you rise to that challenge? Every time you do, your muscles will grow! Don’t be afraid to show your personality in a job interview. If your true self turns somebody off, that person is not the right boss for you anyway! Remember this: only the people who get you, deserve you.

Everybody else is welcome to live a long and happy life without you — or jump in the nearest lake if they prefer. You don’t need them. You have a path to follow and a flame to grow!

Article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/1...
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper
Wednesday, December 2nd 2015 at 6:55PM
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