In the famous infographic “What You Wish You’d Known Before Your Job Interview,” the authors skillfully recite the well-known, long-established facts and statistics about what managers are looking for in job candidates, what questions are most likely to be asked, and what pitfalls to avoid.
Most of us are no strangers to the topic, having had experiences on both sides of the hiring-manager table. I thought it would be interesting to re-assess some of the facts — but from the perspective of a modern hiring-manager in an entirely virtual company, where most of the interviews are done by phone and Skype conversations.
So, let’s review some of the stale factoids…
The most-common mistake a candidate can makeis failure to make an eye contact. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to phone interviews. Even on Skype with a webcam, it’s not really an issue: Making eye contact over a webcam means looking directly at the camera, which is usually off to the side of the screen. Still, shifty eyes are difficult to hide, so be careful, candidates: Don’t let your eyes wander, and don’t fidget. This can make a bad impression — even miles away.
Another common mistake: a handshake that is too weak. Here is where you weak handshakers are completely off the hook. While you have the luxury of keeping your hands to yourself, however, your answers still need to sound confident and competent.
Crossing arms over the chest. I never paid attention to this one, and I think it is an unfair misconception (possibly because crossing arms is a habit I have myself). In my opinion, there are body language offences far worse than this one. Still, my favorite example is a guy I interviewed who, while originally from a non-tropical country himself, lived and worked in sunny Thailand at the time. For some reason — extreme heat possibly — he decided it was a good idea to come to the interview shirtless with the active webcam. Not a good idea! Maybe if he’d crossed his arms, he’d actually have had a better chance.
Not showing enough interest or enthusiasm is ranked as number seven in the most-common mistakes a candidate can make. Similarly, “Why do you want to work for us?” is the fourth most-common question asked during interviews. In the past I always had mixed feelings about this, and I remember agreeing with my friend who was commenting on his own interview, complaining that he did not get hired because he did not show enough excitement. “Did they want me to be a cheerleader? I am not a cheerleader. I am a database administrator! ”
I was in full agreement with him then, but I am making a complete 180 now. Seriously, if you come to my interview, and you do not make an effort to show that you want to be there, I find myself losing interest immediately. And this is probably why 33 percent of 2000 surveyed managers claim that they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire this candidate.
In summary, if you want to get hired, show your enthusiasm, keep your shirt on, do not fidget, and you will do just fine. I almost forgot: Being qualified for the job won’t hurt either, but the infographic speaks little on that matter, so who am I to judge?