Mid-career Job Search–Interview Went Great, Why No Offer?

Are you contemplating or in the midst of job search at middle age? Perhaps this scenario sounds all-too familiar to you:

  • You diligently did your homework and defined an ideal next position where you clearly excel and can have a good time while earning a living.
  • You networked and found a potential “perfect employer”, one that hires and rewards the very type of skills that you possess.
  • You can demonstrate the right education and prior job experience and spent hours preparing a quality resume and cover letter.
  • The resume did the trick–you made contact with the right hiring decision-maker and were invited for an on-site, face-to-face interview.
  • The interview seemed to go well–you shared your extensive list of accomplishments and shared all the reasons why you’re a perfect fit.
  • Guess what–after several nervous days or weeks of waiting, you receive bad news–YOU DIDN’T GET THE JOB!

I’ve been there are done that! Several times in my past life I felt like I had aced an interview only to learn that someone else was hired. If this has happened to you, you already know that “final stage rejection” can be one of the most devastating set-backs in job search.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could know precisely what went wrong? In a lot of cases the answer may be “nothing”–you simply may have been first runner-up to someone with even better experience or job qualifications (or perhaps to an internal candidate who the hiring manager already knew.) You mustn’t lose sleep over this situation. You gave it your best shot; quality of your competition is something beyond your control. But how about those situations where you remain firmly convinced that absolutely no one could be more qualified for that position than you?

Want to know the #1 factor influencing most hiring decisions and why so many middle-aged job seekers get it wrong? I recently interviewed an acclaimed career coach who answered as follows:

” Most job seekers are under the false impression that hiring decisions are fully rational. In fact, more often than not emotion, not pure fact, determines who ultimately gets hired. In that final job interview, your primary task is to make the hiring manager or executive feel comfortable around you. Likeability is a crucial factor so you must calm interviewer fears that you will prove difficult to work with, draw resentment from co-workers or won’t fit in. Convince your targeted boss that you can add value as an ambitious yet gracious and cooperative team member; a pleasant person to be around.”

Here are some of the biggest mistakes you can make during a final job interview:

  • Appear too intense, too rational. No one wants to hire a job seeker who appears to be “all business”, not able to smile or laugh, support and inspire managers and co-workers–someone fun to socialize with over lunch or coffee.
  • Appear threatening rather than comforting and supportive of. No one is going to hire a candidate who appears to be after his or her job!
  • Don’t understand the interviewer’s emotions and motivation–what key  problems and challenges does he/she face? What can you contribute to the solution.
  • Make responses to questions all about you and milestones you’ve accomplished in the past for someone else. Your talents will only appear relevant to the interviewer if you can tie them in to target employer mission and the task at hand.
  • In any way bad mouth or run down a prior boss or employer. You may be asked to explain why you left or are leaving but it is never wise to place blame on your “ex.”
  • Waste excessive time highlighting or talking about personal hobbies or situations that have nothing to do with employer mission or the open position.  If you notice a large fish mounted on the interviewer’s wall, it is great to mention you love fishing also, but remember you’re not here to sell yourself as a commercial fisherman!
  • Ask about salary, benefits and vacation before you are offered a job. To do so is highly presumptuous and a certain turn-off!
  • Ignore, talk down or act rudely toward potential co-workers, even that “lowly” clerical person who might end up typing your letters. Leaving the impression that you are not a good team player is a near-certain kiss of death.

To land that dream position, here’s the bottom line: be the one candidate that the hiring manager most remembers–for uncommon warmth, likeability and compatibility. Without question, you must be qualified to perform the job you are interviewing for but your competition will be qualified also. You need to win on the intangibles! If you can come across as a consistently positive energy supplier rather than a negative energy drainer, you clearly will have the inside track to getting hired. Here’s one more idea: instead of simply citing dry facts, illustrate past accomplishments and milestones through personal stories, describing in detail on-the-job challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

Unfortunately, in most job interviews only one person gets hired. Want to learn more about succeeding in yours? Tune in to the September 23, 2013 weekly broadcast of my Internet radio program, “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age.” I interview hiring expert Tom Payne, author of NO MEDAL FOR SECOND PLACE: How to Finish First in Job Interviews. We’re on WebTalkRadio.net You can listen in any time at your convenience after September 23.



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