In working with job seekers, we have come to recognize five deadly interview sins, any or all of which will keep a candidate from getting an offer. Following are these sins of omission and commission, and the suggested penance.

Sin No. 1: Under preparation

Many job seekers just show up at the appointed time with no idea what the company does or why they would want to work there. Their ignorance is almost always obvious to the interviewer, and it leads to the conclusion that the candidate doesn’t care about working at this particular company. If you don’t care, why should the interviewer?

Penance: The only way to correct this mistake is to stop making it.

From now on, prepare for each interview by finding all the facts you can about the company and analyzing your reasons for wanting the job. Start your research by reading the company profiles provided by EHS. Follow up by talking to your EHS Career Manager and the other EHS Account Representatives who work directly with the Hiring Managers. A cyber-journey to the company’s Web page is also a must.

Sin No. 2: Lack of optimism

If we had a nickel for every candidate who told us, “I’m not going to take (or get) this job. I just want to practice my interview skills,” we wouldn’t be rich, but we’d have a lot of change. When a job seeker has that attitude, the message of disrespect and discouragement is unmistakable. Ironically, since the candidate isn’t treating the interview with respect, he or she isn’t getting any real practice, either.

Penance: You have two choices: Get excited or stay home. If you really don’t care about this job, give the interview a pass. But if you think you might enjoy working there, or you could at least learn something from this position, prepare yourself to win the offer. The offer itself will be negotiable, so don’t worry in advance that it won’t pay enough, or will have long hours, or whatever. And skip worrying about whether you are skilled enough to do the job.

Remember: You wouldn’t have an interview at all if the employer wasn’t seriously considering you.

Sin No. 3: Lack of strategy

Going into the interview without a plan is like getting into a car with no destination in mind. You’ll end up somewhere, but will it be the right place? Your interviewer will have a plan, and you should too.
What information do you want to impart? What facts do you need to learn?

Penance: Ask yourself this: What three main things does the interviewer need to know about me in order to offer me the job? For example, you may have training on equipment that the company uses, or managerial experience. Rehearse the “Tell Me About Yourself” technique, provided by your EHS Career Manager, until it’s second nature to bring out these points. Also, practice a response to the variety of questions, provided in your EHS Interview Prep Pack, as well as develop a short list of questions you need answered.

Sin No. 4: Inert physical presence

This is a cousin to No. 2. If you’re not excited, it will show in your posture. But even people who are highly interested in the job sometimes give a different impression with their body language. Symptoms include limp handshakes, lack of eye contact, rounded shoulders and sluggish walking. Monotone speech and lack of facial expression are turnoffs, too.

Penance: The only solution is to become more vibrant. Concentrate on being outgoing, friendly and competent as you answer expected questions. By practicing with a friend and/or your Career Manager, you will feel more confident, which is also good for your body language.

Sin No. 5: Lack of follow through

No matter how well you do in the interview, it won’t matter if you don’t follow through. Candidates who wait by the phone show that they don’t really care how things turn out. They also suffer needlessly, waiting weeks to hear the position was filled by someone else. This drains energy and leads to it lack of optimism for later interviews (see Sin #2).

Penance: Send a thank you note immediately. As long as you’re brief and polite, you will send the message that this is an important situation and that you are maintaining your interest in working for this company. Ask your EHS Career Manager to provide thank-you cards and correct addresses. Also, after the interview contact your EHS Career Manager without delay and let them know what your interest level is. Don’t worry if you get voice mail. Just leave a short message, and we’ll call back in a reasonable period of time.

Will correcting these five deadly interview sins help you get the job? Absolutely! And even if they don’t, your conscience will be clean. You’ll know you did everything right, and that it’s just a matter of time before you get your wings. Remember: EHS and your Career Manager are your professional partners in this career development process. Being open to criticism and being willing to express your interests/concerns will only help us to help you succeed in locating the “right fit” for you.