Recently, during a job search, I’ve learned some things. Here is one: Don’t over-talk during an interview. Although classic advice is to open up and really let the interviewer get to know you, as well as letting them see how interested you are in the position, I feel that I over-talked myself out of a couple different jobs. In one instance, I revealed the training for my current job was two months long. I figured this info would help them realize that I can handle a job that requires that much preparation and knowledge. However, I had a bad feeling when the interviewer responded with, “Well, the training for this job is only two weeks, and we need you to be independent and taking calls soon.” Another instance, when asked what type of assistance and support I get at my current job, I said that we have a help line and a Microsoft Teams chat, as well as articles we can look up and read that are relevant to the types of calls we handle. Again, I had a bad feeling when she responded, “Well, I just want to be honest about this role. We don’t have a chat where you can ask questions or a support line you can call.” In both cases, I knew I wouldn’t be offered the position, after all, and I was right. What I have taken from these experiences is not to share too much. Similar to being interrogated by the police (and doesn’t it often feel identical?), answer questions simply and think before everything that you say, because interviewers are looking for reasons not to hire you. Before they grant you an interview, they look over your application and resume to see what reasons there are for hiring you. The interview is a tool of elimination. Employers these days have more applicants than they can handle, especially if their jobs are posted on a large site such as Indeed or LinkedIn. I have blown interviews by rambling. And even the most innocuous remarks or information can and most likely will be used against you by a potential employer (again, similar to the police). I tend to ramble when I’m nervous, to fill the silence with speech. I had another interview this morning, and I fought the desire to blab and tried to keep myself in check. We’ll see.
I did something for the first time ever before. I called an interviewer back after not getting a job to see what I had done wrong or why I was not a fit. Although at the time, I felt courageous for doing so, I now feel I actually did so out of an inherent insecurity I have about myself. If I submit an application/resume and do not get an interview, I typically take it as par for the course. I tell myself a human being might not have even looked at it before it was discarded. I tell myself my experience and qualifications simply must not have been a good fit. It feels impersonal and perfunctory. However, when I am granted an interview and still do not get the job, I am crushed. Gutted. Despairing. For me, the difference is that an interview (whether in person, over web cam, or over the phone), is much more personal. For the first time, the interviewer gets to hear me, in real time. A person-to-person connection is made. So when I am denied the job after having interviewed for it, I feel it is me being rejected. It definitely feels personal. am definitely better in writing. I don’t ramble or stutter or epitomize the word “awkward.” I don’t get nervous or feel “put on the spot.”
I am also not great at playing mind games, which is what much of the interviewing process consists of nowadays. For instance, do I admit to already having a degree? Ironically, in some cases, having one can hurt your chances of being hired. How eager should I appear about a position? Too eager will be interpreted as desperate by a potential employer. Acting too chill will be interpreted as a lack of interest. It seems every interview, no matter how closely my skills and experience lines up with the job’s requirements, no matter how much research I do on the position and the company beforehand, is akin to walking a tightrope or taking an exam I haven’t studied for. But sometimes I feel like interviewers actually want you to B.S. your way through an interview, as long as you do it convincingly, because that shows you’re willing to do what you have to do, even if it’s unethical, to get what you want? Because maybe they see that skill as useful in an employee? Hmmmm…
Also, while on the topic of jobs and employers, there really should be a database to house employer references. I have had multiple issues with past employers either forgetting about me or not being reachable, especially from jobs I held several years ago. Considering employment references are such an entrenched part of the job application process, that it’s nearly impossible to get a job without providing them, and that past employers often forget, move, change their contact info, pass away, etc., there should be an online database for employers to upload a reference for you at the end of your employment with them. That way, potential employers could access this database and learn about how you have done in previous positions without you having to hunt down your past references and wait for them to be available.
I have many more thoughts on this topic, and I hope I haven’t been too rambly in this post. Please let me know what you think and if you have anything to add. Probably more on this topic later.
Here is the response I received back from the interviewer about a recent job I was not hired for: “I very much enjoyed talking to you, and you definitely have relevant experience, but I decided to not to recommend an offer at this time based on a few factors. I did not walk away from our conversation feeling as though you were particularly passionate or excited about this specific opportunity or [redacted] as a company. When asked why this role, you answered that you were looking for a new opportunity and were interested in more pay. Although these are appropriate responses, they left me feeling as though you might be looking for a job and not a career. I also had asked for specific examples to my questions, and I felt you missed the mark on doing that in some cases, specifically with the significant change at work question and team project question.” I find this info very valuable, as most people will not go into why you didn’t get the job, and I’ve come away with a couple of bits of insight here. First, I should have talked up the company. I should have done more research to possibly find something unique about the company I could have cited as a reason for my interest. I could have talked about my interest in the field (although in actuality I really don’t have any special interest in this specific field). I could have made up an example for the “team project” question, even though my current position does not entail any group projects (as I noted during the interview). Perhaps I could have used the fact that we have team meetings where we sometimes exchange feedback and tips with each other. I could have elaborated more on what it was like changing from working at the site to working from home during Covid. I think I need to be more creative with the truth in my interviews so I can answer the interviewers’ questions more precisely. Otherwise, I might come off as a bad fit or even evasive. It will never not be odd to me, though, that interviewers would often rather you make up a story (commonly referred to as LYING) rather than telling them the truth. I am really appreciative, though, that she took the time and effort to go out of her way and let me know why I was no longer under consideration for the role. 99% of companies won’t do that nowadays, and I consider the information invaluable and will apply it in future interviews.