Running a staffing company you get very accustomed to the interview process. During busy seasons, wed interview dozens of tech specialists in a single week. But for job applicants, interviewing is a rare experience and it shows.
I would frequently find that people are completely unaware of what it takes to interview well for a job. The two most common mistakes I saw time and time again were not being prepared and forgetting how much body language speaks for itself.
Being Ill-Prepared for the Interview
One time I had a job candidate come to the interview with no resume, no business cards, nothing. He thought that since he had emailed his information prior to the interview, that he didnt need to bring anything with him. Yes, the staffing agency or company thats conducting the interview will already have the essential information nine times out of ten, but its still much more professional to have copies on hand.
I suggested to the applicant that in their next interview they bring a folder that has their resume, cover letter, examples of their work and a few business cards. A decent folder costs less than a dollar, and sites like Printastic.com offer free business cards to new customers.
Its a small investment that makes a huge impact on the interviewer. The interviewee will definitely stick out in the interviewers mind and give the impression that they are a professional right at the outset of the meeting. Leaving behind a physical reminder of the interview is always a good idea because many staffing agencies and HR departments are going paperless.
Another frequent problem with preparedness is interviewees that havent done their homework. More times than I can count, Ive had job applicants come in that have no idea what my company is and what we do. I have even had a few people refer to my company using the wrong name. Needless to say, a working relationship wasnt established.
Letting Body Language Control the Conversation
The other big interview issue is job applicants who seem to be utterly unaware of their body during our conversation. Many times people let their nerves take over. Theyre fidgeting or failing to make eye contact because they are nervous.
I had one applicant that would look at me while I was talking, but the second she opened her mouth to speak her eyes went anywhere but my face. It was a clear giveaway that she wasnt feeling self-assured during the interview even though she had great credentials and experience.
I smiled a lot to put her at ease, and towards the end of the interview advised her to make a little more eye contact when she spoke. I reassured her that she had a lot to offer in her field and that her background was impressive. As I spoke, I could see her relaxing and that she understood exactly what I was saying. During the remainder of the interview, she maintained a good amount of eye contact when she was talking.
I wasnt one bit surprised that not long afterward she got a permanent position with a starting salary above what she was expecting.
There are other times when the person is telling you what you need to hear, but their body language is saying something else entirely. Theyre slouched in their seat, which suggests they arent that interested, or their facial expressions appear to be completely devoid of emotion when they talk about their work.
Likewise, these job applicants often fail to read the cues from other peoples body language. Reading the interviewers cues is one of the biggest advantages an interviewee can give themselves. Many experts believe 93% of communication is non-verbal (55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7% words). If youre not paying attention to body language you are missing the majority of the conversation.
These two interviewing issues, being prepared and body language, keep a large number of job applicants from moving forward in the hiring process. They are very easy to circumvent simply by prepping before the interview. I find that when we offer qualified applicants the coaching they need, they can easily overcome their body language mistakes to start giving the right cues during conversations.