Weigh the Bad, then the Good: Avoiding a Nightmare Interview


How many articles advertise exclusive tips for rocking a job interview? Tons. In fact, there’s almost too much advice about the right ways to act in front of potential employers. Though we’ve certainly featured posts on improving resumes, perfecting applications, and details that stand out to those hiring, there’s still more of the story to be told. Here’s the reality check: in an effort to present themselves as the “perfect candidate,” job-hunters often leave less favorable impressions. With bad apple applicants in mind, our own Hiring Managers spoke from experience on conduct to avoid –if you want the job, of course.

The long application process is complete, and we hope you didn’t tell any white lies. Your clean cut resume and LinkedIn profile shouldn’t tell two strikingly different stories, because even a little exaggeration can cost you a lot of respect. If we like what we see, hopefully a phone interview will be offered. Our recruiters work flexibly with a candidate’s schedule, and ultimately it’s the interviewee who chooses the date. In this context, there’s no excuse to be unprepared. Before the opportunity to speak with a Hiring Manager, doing your fact-finding is key. Any top-notch recruiter can sense laziness, so check the organization’s website and take notes. Google is the best weapon for finding more company information, from employee reviews to (hopefully good) press.

Speaking of phone interviews, plan for a quiet, comfortable spot with a place to set up your notes in advance. As much as we all love coffee shops, please don’t try a phone interview at Starbucks. The environment always turns out much louder than you think, and you want the recruiter to hear all of the awesome qualities you could bring to the position.

If you’ve successfully made it this far, chances are good that you’ll be invited for an on-site interview. Show up with a confident attitude (read: not arrogant), but be self-aware and don’t dominate conversations. Keep a positive demeanor and, perhaps most importantly, be delicate when speaking of current and past employers. It’s not the time to bash the manager you hated, or say that one work experience was a total waste of your time. Now is an opportunity to instead prove your knowledge and impress the audience. And while we love enthusiasm, it may be a bit soon to exhibit your thoughts on a question by using the conference room’s whiteboard.

All of the research we recommended will pay off when you aren’t left empty-handed as the team asks if you have questions. We know you can think of at least one, so avoid the response that everything is all clear. At this stage in the interview game, don’t focus on what the company can do for you personally. Inquiring about the number of sick and vacation days, dental insurance providers, and how often you can work from home doesn’t read well. Rather, show how interested you are in the business itself, from their core values to competitors, office culture, and how this potential role will play a part in the company’s big picture.

Finishing an interview feels like a relief, but it’s also when anxiety can start to creep in. Try to block second thoughts from your mind and move on, all in hopes that you’ll get that coveted offer soon. Personalized thank-you notes are definitely appreciated, but this special gesture won’t make or break your chances of being hired. Should you choose to reach out, use nice stationary and make sure your handwriting is legible. And while an extra trip to the post office can be a pain, make the effort to send your note on the same day you interviewed. Email thank-you notes also aren’t frowned upon either, but don’t send a bulk email to everyone you encountered. Make each email message special, and never send from your work account.

Not such smart ideas? Sending Facebook friend requests and LinkedIn invites to your entire interview panel. They’ll likely decline the requests, and it’s too soon to make such quick connections anyway. If you don’t land the job, the awkwardness of having them in your network might be too much to take. In addition, don’t call the office asking to follow-up because, trust me, you’ll eventually hear news. Depending on the position, our Hiring Mangers aim to contact candidates within a week of the interview regarding their status.

Whether you’re applying to The Motley Fool or another organization, it can be eye-opening to consider nightmare interview situations. It’s also a nice feeling to know that it wasn’t you smacking gum or saying something is “totes your specialty” in front of seasoned professionals. And, maybe more so after this article, you won’t be that candidate. Weigh the bad – and the good – advice, and you’ll likely find yourself improving your interviewing game.

 

One thought on “Weigh the Bad, then the Good: Avoiding a Nightmare Interview

  1. I’m also a big fan of the cover letter. More and more companies are realizing that not only does your college choice not matter that much, neither does whether you went to college. We care about you as a person, what you are passionate about, and how you have chosen to pursue your passion. We are especially enamored with anything you have mastered. If you put in the 10k hours we definitely want to hear about it!

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