Unprepared for the Interview
by Michael Mayher

Would you take an important exam without studying beforehand? Of course not, so why would you attend an interview without first investing some time researching and familiarizing yourself with the company for which you claim you want to work?

As a job-seeking candidate, there are a couple of questions you should always assume you’ll be asked at the interview. Being ready for questions like “What do you know about us (our company)?” and “Why do you want to join our company?” is about as basic and fundamental as arriving to your interview at the appointed time. Considering there are others who would like the same job for which you are interviewing, why would you throw away an opportunity, waste your and the interviewer's time, by not having done the most basic of research? Is it even necessary to suggest that you shouldn’t take an opportunity for granted and you should be prepared? Especially now, when the jobs market is so competitive for fewer jobs.

As an example, I had represented a candidate to one of my client companies, who was both qualified and enthusiastic about a particular opportunity. I presented her with the position details and also described what kind of person they sought. As a matter of habit, I suggested she do her homework and familiarize herself with not only the job information, but also with the company, any news releases, etc., to have a good overview in general going into the meeting. I’m a headhunter and not a baby sitter; I expect any adult professional to conduct themselves as a grown up. I want to assist people and help them to help themselves, while also representing my client in an appropriate manner. I might invest extra effort to manage and help keep the hiring process moving. Of course, I am also a trouble shooter for both sides to smooth out any rough edges or miscommunications but, once they’ve met and shaken hands, it is up to them. Experience has taught me that job seekers need to invest themselves in the process and if they don’t, they are not serious.

To make a long story short, after the interview, the candidate told me that from her perspective everything was positive and she thought it had gone well. However, after I spoke to the hiring official with whom the candidate had met, I heard a very different version. When the candidate was asked why she wanted to join this particular company, she could not adequately answer beyond stating she thought it is a “good company”. When she was asked what she wanted to accomplish regarding her own career development, the reply was that she “wants to learn new things”. Apparently, this was the best she could come up with. But, worst of all, when she was asked what she knew about this very well-known international company, whose name is a household word, she couldn’t answer with any details. The best she came up with was she recognized it is a “…very well-known international company, whose name . . . is a household word.” I actually felt embarrassed for her. I just shook my head and apologized to my client for wasting his time.

So, let’s see, the job seeker wasted her own time, as well as that of everyone involved. In the future, do you think that hiring official or I will waste even one minute of time considering this individual again? Time is money, time has value and time wasted cannot be recovered. Fortunately, I had a back-up candidate who was slightly less qualified but more enthusiastic and invested some time in preparation. This was the individual who got the job, so I guess sometimes things work out the way they should.

I do not have patience for people who waste my time and neither does a hiring manager. If this sounds harsh, it is meant to be. It’s not an exaggeration to say you might have one chance with a company for which you would very much like to work. Don’t blow it! If you arrive at the interview with physical presence, but you left your brain somewhere else and failed to prepare, why attend the interview at all? With the Internet, email and so much technology at our disposal to gather information, there is no excuse to fail to prepare for a meeting that has the potential to benefit you and your career.

More articles by Michael Mayher:
Workplace Harassment
About Urgency
Job Seekers Hurt Their Own Chances
Another Warning About Social Media Exposure
The Problem with HR
Get Noticed
The Chicken or the Egg
The Confidence Deficit
Earn the Opportunity to Say No
Resume Usefulness
After the Interview
Getting an Invitation
Reference Checked Before the Interview
Networking Effectively
A Failure to Communicate
Increasing Your Chances
Why You Should Heed My Advice

To Those Still Asleep
The Way It Was/The Way It Is
Demonstrating Interest is Not Begging
Confidence is a Key Ingredient
Stop Relying on the Internet
Career Survival Skills: The First Interview
The Interview
Resolve to Make This Year, Your Year
Periodic Update of Your Resume

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.  

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