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Four. Why Candidates Do Not Get Hired

It is often hard to determine the exact reason an interviewer does not extend a job offer. Sometimes even the interviewer cannot pinpoint the basis for a negative decision—simply a gut feeling. But in other cases, the interviewer can cite concrete examples of why things went wrong. You, as the candidate, may not be able to recognize these blunders, so you remain in the dark as to why you were not hired. That's not so good, especially as you want to become employed.

With interviewers' fickleness always in play, it is paramount that you effectively manage the aspects of the interview over which you have control. This chapter provides an overview of controllable gaffes you need to be aware of, lest they cost you that job.

When Examples Go Wrong

Your success in answering competency-based answers is rooted in the quality of examples you offer. In truth, the weaker your response, the better the chances of leaving the interviewer with a negative impression. So, all the stories you provide should focus on the hands-on knowledge you acquired. And all the work experiences should point to a steady development of core competencies.

When answering competency-based questions, avoid mistakes by following these rules:

Provide examples. Ideally, you ought to be able to gather your thoughts without hesitation; however, there may be times when you are not quick on your feet or your mind goes blank. A knee-jerk response often takes either of two forms.

First, you may feel inclined to make a defensive comment, such as the following real-life example: "I do not understand why you are asking such questions. I have the qualifications for the job. But I am not good at interviews." That possibly is the case; nevertheless, an interviewer will not take your word for it and will expect you to demonstrate your capability.

Second, making an obnoxious comment surely will eliminate your candidacy, as will unknowingly making rude facial expressions, such as rolling your eyes. Needless to say, obvious negative reactions tremendously decrease your chances of being hired.

So, when you find you are unable to answer a question or provide a hypothetical scenario, simply come clean by stating: "At the moment I cannot think of an example. Is it possible to move on to the next question?" This situation is not ideal, and should be used rarely, but it's better than insulting the interviewer.

Offer details. When interviewers ask competency-based questions, they want specifics. Failing to provide those specifics will lead the interviewers to conclude that you do not have the right experience for the job.

Vary your examples. Using examples that always contain the same facts, situations, gender, or age group is a warning sign that you do not have a range of experience or can deal with different personalities. To avoid being pigeonholed, provide diverse examples that reflect an array of situations and personalities.

Limit your examples. Depending on the number of years constituting your work experience, you may have many examples to offer. If this is the case, avoid providing too many illustrations, lest you overwhelm the interviewer. To narrow down your choices, stick with the most recent examples.

Provide relevant examples. Answer the questions asked, not the ones you thought you heard. For example, when asked, "Tell me about a time when you acted as a leader," you may be tempted to say, "I am not ready to manage people." However, though this may be accurate, you should provide the information that was requested, not your impression of the question.

Remember, in this example, the interviewer did not ask if the interviewee had experience as a manager but, rather, what his experience was as a leader. A leader comes in many forms. Being in charge of a department is one example of being a leader, but so is taking charge of a team project. You need to focus your response on the experience, not your shortcomings or seeming lack of direct experience. You don't want to leave the interviewer with a negative impression.

 
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