Q. I have been doing temporary consulting work since 2000. I returned to school for my Master’s degree and graduated last year with the idea that I would return to full-time permanent employment. I have gotten first interviews, but nothing beyond that. It is very frustrating. I want to be back at work at a full-time permanent position. What am I doing wrong? – Mary, New Jersey
A. At first blush, it seems to me that you are falling short during the interview process. You are getting first interviews, which is a good sign. You need to explore your interview style and body language. What is the message that you are conveying?
It might be that you are not answering the interviewer’s questions in an appropriate manner; or perhaps, you are giving off the wrong signals. There are many reasons why you might not be getting called back for a second interview.
Here are some things I would recommend:
– Video yourself being interviewed by a friend or mentor. It helps if you can identify someone who has some experience interviewing others (a hiring manager or person in a managerial position) so they can provide you with an honest critique. The video part will allow you to review the interview and also identify areas where you might need assistance. If you do not have the capacity to video on your computer, take notes as the person shares his feedback with you.
– Do some research regarding conducting an appropriate interview. You will likely learn about topics you want to cover and those you want to avoid. An interview is a two-way street. You need to also interview the interviewer so that you understand if the position is even right for you in the first place. Ask a few solid questions at the end to give you a better perspective.
– Are you sharing the accomplishments you have had in your previous positions, as well as, the value that the master’s program afforded you? The interview is an opportunity to share positive experiences; there is no room for any negativity. You should always aim to put your best foot forward.
– Are you prepared for the interview? Do you bring extra copies of your resume and any supplemental materials that support your candidacy? Are you there 15-20 minutes beforehand so you don’t have to rush in as if your coach is going to turn into a pumpkin?
– Are you dressed appropriately? What is your interview attire? Are you wearing a clean cut pant or skirt suit? Is your hair and make-up done tastefully? Do not wear perfume? You don’t know when someone might be allergic or what scents might be offensive to someone else.
– Are you following up with an appropriate thank you note? In order to set yourself apart from other candidates you need to be gracious. All too often people do not follow up or reach out after the interview. Don’t make this very avoidable mistake.
– Have you considered working with a coach for interview preparation? As you mentioned, you have obtained your master’s degree and are no doubt interested in returning to the workforce in a full-time capacity to make good use of the advanced education. The nominal investment in your future career growth warrants that you explore getting some professional attention to ensure you make the most positive impact.