Few things are more frustrating for a job seeker than walking out of the interview feeling like you nailed it, only to get a form rejection letter a week later. Even worse, asking for feedback rarely gets a candid answer. Although it’s easy for your imagination to run rampant, the reality is probably a lot more run of the mill than you think. Sometimes it’s simply that someone else was more qualified than you, but it could also come down to one of these commonly mentioned deal breakers.
Tone of Voice
There’s a reason that professional actors spend a lot of time with vocal coaches. Nailing the right tone to convey specific qualities isn’t always easy. You might have come across as too harsh for customer service or too shy for management, simply based on your speaking voice. Do a few mock interviews with friends and family, and ask them to rate whether your tone matches the position you want.
The sense of smell is highly personal and deeply emotional, and it can lead to unconscious biases. You might have been wearing the same perfume as the hiring manager’s ex, or maybe you shouldn’t have had Thai food for lunch right before the interview. The best way to avoid these biases is to aim for as little scent as possible. Skip the heavily scented products, brush your teeth, and use mouthwash right before your interview, and of course, always make sure you are scrupulously clean.
Overdoing It or Not Doing Enough
If you land an interview with your dream company, it’s only natural to be excited. But overenthusiasm can come across as fake or even desperate. Maintain your professionalism by taking a few deep breaths and taking it down a notch. Focus on coming in highly prepared and asking a few targeted questions, rather than breathlessly exuding excitement throughout the interview.
On the flip side, some people come across as cold or even arrogant in interviews. Never cracking a smile, forgetting to ask thoughtful questions about the company, or making a bunch of claims without backing them up can make the interviewer perceive you as difficult.
Sometimes it just comes down to the simple fact that you and the interviewer didn’t mesh. Not everyone is going to like you, and most of the time, it’s not because you did anything wrong. All you can do is be yourself and try to manage your interview nerves, so they don’t get in the way. If you have a personality conflict with an interviewer, shake it off. You might just be a perfect fit for the next one.
Nepotism or Internal Candidates
Maybe you did absolutely everything perfectly, and even made a real connection with the interviewer. If the big boss wants Uncle Joe in the position, or the department manager is lobbying for the girl from Accounting, you never really stood a chance. This is entirely outside your control, so try to move on with grace.
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