By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I’ve been really successful in getting interviews, but so far, no job offers. It is discouraging. What am I doing wrong?
A: It is hard to tell without talking with you, but there are a few ways that you may be falling short before, during, or after the interview. Here are a few tips for making a really great impression the next time.
Do as much research as you can on the organization. Study its website and use your LinkedIn network to find people you know who already work there so you understand the employer before you meet the person who will interview you.
Spend time looking at your strengths and how they match up to the job requirements as you understand them from the job posting. If possible, come up with at least two stories that showcase each of your strengths. Each story should be just a few sentences but be powerful enough that the interviewer immediately understands that you have already demonstrated your ability to do the job. Rehearse your stories so that you know them well, but don’t memorize a script.
Prepare your questions before you go into the interview. The interviewer wants you to ask well-crafted, intelligent questions about the organization. Prepare at least 10 questions, including, if you are meeting with your potential manager, questions about his or her leadership style, what the manager’s expectations of you would be if you were selected, and how success would be measured.
Don’t get hung up on the rejections. Use them to fine-tune your presentation, your stories, and your questions so that the next time, you’re in the best position to get the offer.
Inquire about the process. It is perfectly all right to ask the interviewer where the organization is in the selection process and when you might expect to hear from them. Ask for the interviewer’s card (if it isn’t promptly given), and ask if it is OK for you to follow up with any questions you might have after the interview. Always end on a positive note with a handshake and genuine thanks for the time the interviewer spent with you and the information shared.
After the interview, follow up. Send an email thanking the interviewer again and, if you mean it, saying how excited you are about the opportunity. You also might want to consider sending a handwritten thank-you note. Since people rarely get real mail these days, your note will help you stand out.
Follow up again, within reason. If you haven’t heard back from the interviewer in the designated time frame, it’s OK to call and leave a voice mail saying that you are still interested and hope to hear from them soon. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how many times to contact that person, but be sure you don’t turn into a pest.
There are many reasons that could explain why you haven’t received a job offer yet—the organization may have decided not to fill the position, for example, or a qualified internal candidate may have emerged. Most of the time, not getting the job has less to do with you and your qualifications than it does with the fact that there is a lot of competition out there.
Don’t get hung up on the rejections. Use them to fine-tune your presentation, your stories, and your questions so that the next time, you’re in the best position to get the offer. Remember, every interview is a chance to improve your interviewing skills, so don’t get discouraged. All it takes is one offer to change your life.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].