You get the interview… finally, a chance to show your stuff. You believe you nailed the interview; your answers were just as you rehearsed: honest and concise. You went home feeling pretty good about this one.
But something goes wrong. You don’t get a call back. There is no offer.
Here are answers I’ve heard from candidates and mentees to direct questions that – much to the demise of their job search – could not have been more wrong. We also present how those answers could be delivered just a bit better – creating a much different first reaction from recruiters and mentors, and perhaps setting you apart by turning your answers into really good questions and proactive statements.
BEFORE: “I just need someone to give me a chance.”
AFTER: “I am eager to start this assignment; how do I stack up to other candidates you’ve interviewed?”
BEFORE: “I’m tired of working where my boss is a jerk.”
AFTER: “I’m focusing on opportunities where I can build a mutually beneficial mentor-based relationship.”
BEFORE: “The Boomer boss didn’t get me, I’m looking to work where my skills will be appreciated.”
AFTER: “I enjoy cross-generational work teams; how does <company> encourage diversity and collaboration?”
BEFORE: “I’m really just looking for a way to pay the bills until I find my passion.”
AFTER: “There are many aspects of this position that match my passions and career goals.”
BEFORE: “All my friends have good jobs, it’s time for me to get going.”
AFTER: “This opportunity is well aligned with my current career goals. I’m anxious to get started!”
BEFORE: “They weren’t organized at all and I wasn’t getting paid enough; I just put in my time and went home.”
AFTER: “I love the rush of the last-minute, ‘all-hands-on-deck’ projects… I also look for an opportunity to help build a culture where we’re organized and prepared for the unexpected.”
BEFORE: “I didn’t get along with any of the people there… just a bad fit.”
AFTER: “I’ve learned from experience the importance of the right company culture. Can you describe the culture here?”
BEFORE: “I just wanted to do my job… they wanted me to learn things like Social Media.”
AFTER: “I’m a team-player. I also believe in mastering core responsibilities, and then I’m more than eager to contribute however I’m needed.”
BEFORE: “My solo entrepreneurship project didn’t work out, so I need to get back into the real world.”
AFTER: “I had the opportunity to work on some freelance projects and learned a great deal that will help me excel in this position. Let me give you some examples…”
BEFORE: “They wanted to be surrounded by “Yes Men”… that isn’t me, ya’ know?”
AFTER: “I welcome an environment where open dialogue is encouraged and the end result is a better product, and even more loyal customers. How does <company> approach direct input from team members?”
Job or internships seekers: what answers have you given that allowed the recruiter to perceive you as a less-than-perfect candidate? How will you answer the questions differently next time?
Recruiters and employers: what are some of the worst answers you’ve ever received, and what would you suggest as a much better answer?
For this post, thank you to our friends at YouTern.
CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Switch and Shift, The Daily Muse and Under30CEO.