I get to the second or third interview in the hiring process but
can't get a job offer. What could I be doing wrong? And how can
I "close the sale?"
The fact that you're getting interviews is a good sign. It means
that your letters and resume are working and that you're making
a good first impression. There are at least eight reasons you
could be failing:
- You don't look the part.
Your clothing is out of style. Make sure your clothing, including
eyewear and briefcase, is current. Have shirts and blouses professionally
cleaned and starched.
- You lack focus.
You come across as too much of a generalist, as someone who can
"do it all"--jack of all trades and master of none. You
haven't defined what you want or where you fit, and companies
pick that up as lack of direction. Without sharp focus you appear
scattered and may come across as a "loose cannon." To
combat this, develop strong preferences and be clear about what
you want and what you don't want.
- You're overselling.
In an attempt to "make the sale" you're pushing too
hard, or coming across as desperate. You may appear too eager
or overanxious. Create a high-impact, accomplishment-oriented
resume and let it do most of the selling. In general, listen 75%
and talk 25% of the time.
- Your references are shooting you down.
Who are you using to support your candidacy? Have you asked them what
they'll say? Have you prepared guidelines for them? Do they have your resume?
Do you brief them before they're called? Be sure to give employers
references they can relate to. Engineers like to talk to other
engineers, and attorneys prefer other attorneys. Last point: don't
overuse your references.
- You want too much money.
Don't gauge your present worth on your last salary. The market
may have changed; people with your skills could be in oversupply.
Do a quick salary survey to determine realistically what you should
be earning. Ask what the company plans to pay for the position.
Then be flexible. You can lose out by seeming to care more about
salary and benefits than about making a big contribution.
- You appear difficult.
In multiple interviews companies have time to uncover weaknesses,
character flaws, and problem behaviors, such as being arrogant
or losing patience. You must appear co-operative, collaborative,
and easy to work with.
- Someone on the team doesn't like you.
Many companies hire by consensus. That means nearly everyone has
to like you. Technical people often feel their track record "speaks
for itself," but that's seldom true. In today's team-oriented
environment, you need to make a strong effort to be liked by everyone
you meet, from entry-level workers to the CEO.
- You're not the best qualified.
There may be others who really do fit the job better.
Interviewing is a selling opportunity. It's a relatively short
time frame and you're in the spotlight. Even in so-called casual
interviews, you're watched and evaluated very closely. You're
compared to others and graded. Everything you do, everything you
wear, and everything you say is magnified, and either helps or
hurts you. You can sell yourself into a job by using
This is one way to close the sale.
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