There are many reasons for not getting that important call back for an interview or after the interview. It’s frustrating, disappointing, disheartening and sometimes feels like a waste of your time.
It can be a challenging process looking for a new job, particularly in these difficult economic times. This is nothing you’ve not read or heard before. Looking for a job requires persistence, determination and resilient it can be psychologically challenging too. On top of all this you are expected to maintain your enthusiasm throughout the period of your job search.
If you’ve read my previous articles you’ll know I have a recruitment background. I’ve been working in-house for several corporate organisations for over a decade and I can share my knowledge of what happens behind the scenes and let me tell you it’s not always personal when you don’t get a call back. There are many events that happen in the business to cause the recruitment to stop unexpectedly – budgets needed elsewhere, redundancies, re-structuring the team, customer demands, internal candidates applying at the final stage and don’t get me started on the holiday season and Christmas period. Did someone mention Christmas!!
Here are some of the factors that you can control and may be the reason you didn’t get that call back.
1. Too late or too early
It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t be late for an interview. However not everyone knows it’s not good to be too early.
Having worked in the City of London for six years with a 60 minute commute, I know firsthand how unpredictable the trains can be and sometimes there just isn’t a reasonable alternative route.
You don’t have control over engineering works or signal failures or the wrong kind of snow!! You do have control over setting your alarm, getting out of bed or taking a slightly earlier train then necessary to ensure you arrive before the interview starts.
Did you know turning up too early isn’t a good thing either? Do you know why it’s not viewed positively by interviewers? Well it’s putting the interviewer in an awkward position – do they leave you sitting there in reception or do they try to find a free room and reschedule their busy diary to fit around you?
Getting to the interview venue too early can also give the impression you cannot manage your time properly. If you arrive early that’s absolutely fine. Go for a walk round the block to clear your head or grab a coffee or sit in the park and spend those valuable few minutes going over your interview notes again.
2. Dressing inappropriately
If you are in any doubt about the way you should dress or what will be viewed as “appropriate” then ask the person who invited you to interview or go smartly dressed. It’s always better to be suited and booted – you are certainly not going to lose points for dressing up but you most certainly could do some damage to that all important first impression if you dress down.
Related: What to Wear for a Job Interview
Of course worse than dressing down or going too casually is dressing inappropriately. Skirts too short or blouse / shirt showing a bit too much flesh! It’s embarrassing for the interviewer and could make them feel awkward or vulnerable.
3. Phone not switched off
I know it’s easy to forget to switch off your phone and as an interviewer I was fairly relaxed about this one – it happens. Not all interviewers are the same. The point where I turned from relaxed to feeling awkward was when they actually answered the call!! Needless to say this did not give a great first impression.
4. Swearing during the interview
This is an absolute no-no. I’m sure there are some industries that still think to hell with the office politics and HR non-sense but from the corporate world it’s just not acceptable during an interview or in the workplace.
5. Being rude or getting frustrated with the receptionist or security staff
Having worked in large corporate companies (one that actually provided staff for receptions) we really valued the receptionists and security staff. They managed our front of house and this is extremely important to the company’s image and brand. This is the first impression a visitor will get of the company. I know one very famous building in London that hires models part time to sit in its rather unique reception area and they are highly trained to talk about every aspect of the buildings uniqueness. That’s how important the image is to that establishment.
If you sit in the waiting area of a company and watch the people going in and out you’ll get a really good feel for the corporate culture. You’ll see if people look happy or stressed or calm or rushed. You’ll see how they interact with others. You’ll see how they dress etc. As a candidate you are being assessed from the minute you apply for a job and how you conduct and behave throughout the recruitment process.
I remember conducting a psychometric test for a senior management position and one of the candidates was really quite rude about how I’d read the instructions and finished the test and made it quite clear in front of everyone he thought I’d done it incorrectly.
When I reported this back to our Head of Talent Management he decided not to consider his candidacy any further. The participant’s behaviour had shown lack of professionalism, lack of leadership and lack of discretion. All the characteristics we would expect in the level of role he was applying. By the way my instructions were perfect – I’ve been trained by the leaders in psychometrics CEB SHL (Formerly SHL) but unlike him I didn’t challenge him in front of the others.
6. Not listening or interrupting the interviewer
This was one of my pet hates during an interview if the candidate didn’t listen to my instructions or continually interrupted, particularly as my instructions were there to help them through the process. Often the interview questions are structured to match the requirements in the job. However, it’s not just the answers to the questions that are being assessed. You are being assessed on behaviours you display throughout the recruitment process.
For example, if the job requires someone to listen to instructions or to present data concisely and you don’t demonstrate this ability in the way you communicate (verbal communication or listening skills), then it’s likely you won’t get that call back!!
How you behave throughout the recruitment process will be assessed and noted.
7. Too nervous or too confident
I’m afraid neither being too nervous or too confident work during the interview and unfortunately it could mean the difference between getting that call back to second stage or not!!
Good interviewers will do everything they can to put the candidate at ease however you have to meet them half way. The interviewer wants to get the best out of a candidate and they won’t achieve this by making the candidate feel even more nervous or putting them under additional pressure. Try and strike a balance by controlling those nerves and not showing off too much in the interview.
8. Not being able to answer the “what are your weaknesses” question
This is a question you really need to be prepared for “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” It’s still used by managers today. If you’re a confident candidate you tend to find it easy to talk through your strengths but you may not be able to easily identify your weaknesses or even admit you have any weaknesses (you know who you are!).
Conversely if you lack self confidence you may do too well on highlighting lots of weaknesses and talk yourself out of the job. Inadvertently you may let the interviewer know that you don’t match even the basic criteria. For these reasons it’s really worth giving this question some time and thought before the interview.
9. Talking too much
Recruiters tend to be very busy people and so are hiring managers. If a hiring manager is recruiting it’s likely he/she already has a team of people to manage and recruitment is just a small part of their day job.
The typical time set aside for a face to face interview is one hour – if you’re lucky. Telephone interviews tend to be much shorter – approximately 30 minutes. This doesn’t give you any slack for casual conversation or waffle.
Unfortunately, some recruiters or hiring managers will not ask candidates all of the planned questions if a candidate has spent too much time answering the first question. This means that these candidates will be at a serious disadvantage against other candidates that have answered concisely. Fair? Not really.
Those candidates that have answered concisely will most definitely have answered more questions and therefore, had more opportunity to demonstrate skills and knowledge.
Guess which candidate will be getting the call back?
10. Talking too little
If you only give one word or very short answers you are making it very difficult for the recruiter to gain a full understanding of your capability. If the interviewer has to do all the work to gather any information from you then you are likely to leave them with a negative feeling about the entire interview – regardless of the evidence eventually gathered.
It’s difficult for even the most professional interviewer to be 100% objective and just assess the information gathered rather than assessing how they were made to feel during the interview.
I’m going to leave you with this quote and wish you good luck in your job search and the interview.
The great (sadly late) Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
photo by: sarah