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Interviewing Pitfalls

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Interviewing Pitfalls

As an executive level recruiter, I am privy to the reasons why candidates are hired or NOT hired.  I find it interesting how often the same reasons for not hiring tend to come up, and so I wanted to warn you about these missteps.  There are many reasons why a company might not choose to hire someone, but below you will find the top three interviewing pitfalls.

The Over-Talker

Feedback: “I couldn’t get this guy to stop talking.” OR “Her answers were all over the place.”  OR “I felt like I had to ask two follow-up questions just to get my first question answered.”

We have a saying here that No One Hires a Rambling Generalist.  Talking too much isn’t necessarily the problem for some candidates—talking without a direction or clear point is the pitfall.  Companies are passing on people because the candidate’s thoughts weren’t organized and expressed efficiently.  They are evaluating your intelligence by how well-organized your thoughts are, which is demonstrated by succinct, clear communication.  The interviewer doesn’t want to weed through a dreadfully long story to pull out ten relevant sentences.  One way to avoid this misstep is to plan for the questions that they are likely to ask and practice answering them. An example of this best practice is being ready for, “Walk me through your resume.”

In another article, I wrote about how to master Behavioral Based Interview (BBI) questions.  Being effective in sharing experiences is one of the major keys to getting the job.  Candidates who are vague or hypothetical are ineffective.  How to master the art of storytelling in an interview setting is covered in my article called Winning Candidates are Good Storytellers (Here’s the link: http://wp.me/p2PVqk-10). Remember to use the STAR Model, where you can really accentuate your skill sets in relationship to the company’s needs.

The Dud

Feedback: “He didn’t seem to have the passion we’re looking for.” OR “We need someone with a bit more fire in the belly.” OR “This candidate lacked energy in the interview.”

Believe it or not, one of the most common reasons (if not the most common reason) why candidates fail to get the job is that they lack passion for the position.  I’ve heard it described as “flat affect,” “lack of energy,” “no passion,” “no fire in the belly,” etc.  When you interview for a job they want you to be excited/bought-in about the role.

You may be saying, “but Michael, I am a low-key kind of person.”  I understand that you might not be the most excitable person on the planet, but energy is what people hire—it’s what companies are buying when you are selling yourself.  Remember that simply saying you are “very interested” or “quite intrigued” or “really excited” is not enough.  Passion, energy, and enthusiasm are things you show, not things you say. 

Think of it this way.  Let’s say that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, you are normally a 3 on the energy/excitement scale.  When you are really excited about something you get up to around a 6 or a 7 on the scale.  Then you need to interview at around a 5–this is going to exhaust you, but it is going to help you get the job.

The Under Prepared

Feedback:  “He obviously wasn’t prepared for the interview.” OR “Did she even go to our website?”  OR “That is not the A-Player our company needs.”

No feedback cuts to the core of me like when I hear one of my candidates presented themselves as under prepared, because it means I too was under prepared.  Most of the candidates I have in final interviews have to give a presentation, and this is usually where their amount of preparation shows.  If your up-coming interview has a presentation or if the company is expecting you to prepare something (business plan, etc), don’t just be prepared–be over prepared.  Be so prepared for the interview that the company’s comment to the recruiter is, “Wow, she really did her homework!” OR “He nailed the presentation.”   You can be less qualified, with fewer years of experience, and WIN the interview by simply being outstandingly prepared. 

If you fall into the pitfall of being unprepared, you really only have yourself to blame.   The people who fall in to the pitfall most often are the candidates who ARE more qualified and more experienced.  My advice is not to lean on that experience as what is going to get you the job.  Prepare like crazy and win the interview, and THEN let your experience be the thing that secures the job.

Interviewing is the art of creating the proper perception of yourself.  If you are very qualified and you come in under prepared, you’ll be perceived as cocky or arrogant.  If you are very qualified and you come to the interview very prepared, you’ll be perceived as humble and an absolute star.  The only difference is the work put in to win.

I hope that knowing about these missteps helps you secure your next great position.

See you at the top!

Michael Pietrack

About the Author: Michael Pietrack is a leading executive recruiter in a the Pharmaceutical Industry and arguably the top recruiter in the Medical Affairs space. His specific expertise is recruiting in Field Medical Affairs placing Medical Science Liaisons, and therefore, he has been dubbed “The MSL Recruiter” (www.TheMSLRecruiter.com).

What is TMAC Direct?: TMAC Direct is an executive search agency that serves the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries. This boutique firm fills critical staffing needs on a retained, partially retained, or contingency basis. TMAC Direct is the direct-hire recruiting division of The Medical Affairs Company, commonly known as TMAC. Together TMAC and TMAC Direct, provide an unmatched staffing service in the Medical Technology arena, whether the hiring needs are on a permanent placement or outsourcing basis.

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