Five and a half reasons why you didn’t get past the first job interview

It used to be that you could send in your resume, you would get called in for an interview, you would WOW them on the spot and be working the next Monday.

No more!

Now, it is more common than not to have to pass a phone screen before you get to see anyone face-to-face.  This makes the phone interview a critical skill that many folks are – well let’s be blunt – horrible at (yes I know I ended a sentence in a preposition, but it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to).

So why do so many qualified candidates never make it to the second stage of the hiring process?  Here are five reasons why you didn’t make the cut.

  1. You didn’t sound enthusiastic – while I don’t necessarily recommend you play cheerleader, you must be energetic and lively.  Try getting warmed up before hand; talk to yourself in the mirror. Don’t lay down, or sit down; do the interview standing or even walking back and forth.  People want to work with people that bring energy to the organization not those that suck the life out of the room. 
  2. You weren’t prepared – you weren’t quite sure what the role was; you didn’t know what level the position was; “Oh, I have to relocate to where?” Make sure you gather whatever information you might need to breeze through the interview.  If you are working with a recruiter, they can usually give you the “skinny.” Otherwise you will need to gather information other ways – reading the job description is always a good start and you can peruse the JDs for other jobs with similar titles.
  3. You didn’t know anything about the company – there is no excuse for not looking at the hiring company’s web page, or googling them at a bare minimum.  Knowing not only what the company does for a living, but learning something about their history and culture can always be helpful.
  4. You talked about what you wanted – I have news for you, they don’t really care about what you want or what they can do for you – they want to know what you can do for them.  Plain and simple, your prospective next company wants to know what you bring to the table – Tell them clearly why you are a good value, i.e. you are worth more than they are going to pay you.
  5. You couldn’t discuss your accomplishments – you had better be ready to answer questions about your resume and your background.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen or heard about a candidate that couldn’t provide details about things that were on their resume.  Read your resume over and over until you know it cold.  Be prepared to provide additional details for everything on your resume and in your cover letter.

     5 1/2. You didn’t ask any questions – asking questions about the company, the role, etc. is expected; asking about salary or benefits is not.  Prepare 3-5 questions beforehand.  Be engaged in the process.  It will help you stand out from the crowd.

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