If you're lucky enough to land an interview, don't risk being under prepared. Cover all your bases—you have one shot to send all the right signals, convey your relevant experience, and convince the hiring managers that you would fit like a glove into their company culture.
Any hint or red flag that might indicate you're a bad hire means you're out of the running. After all, employers can't afford bad hires. With writing and placing job ads, reviewing resumes, reference checks, interviewing, training and more—hiring a replacement is extremely expensive.
These are some red flags that employers are looking for during an interview:
1. You have no clue about the company's culture. The easiest way for them to determine that you're a great fit is by showing them how you love their company culture. Sprinkle comments here and there in your interview that show that you've read up on their office. If it's technology-centric, for instance, talk about your passion and love for innovation. They've really got to be sure that you want to immerse yourself in their environment. If it's a startup, exude your interest in the up-and-coming product or market.
2. You need to pause before answering "Why do you want to work here?" You've got to dig deep and think about why this particular company at this time is the best place for you. It could be the company culture that you love, a product you strongly believe in, or the company mission. "Long pauses before responses typically indicate the candidate does not have an answer or has been thrown by the question," says Marlene Caroselli, corporate trainer and author of The Language of Leadership. Avoid the pause by preparing reasons why you want to work at this specific company and not somewhere else in this industry. Same goes for other recurring questions, like the old "Tell me about yourself."
3. You didn't get a handle on the company's mission and values. It's standard procedure for employers to explain and inform candidates about the company's overall goals. "All companies or organizations want to know that you understand their mission, purpose, etc," says Andrew Simmons, Ph.D., director of CareerLAB at Brown University. But if you drop some knowledge on the company's mission beforehand, you'll stand out. Show the hiring managers that you're not only technically skilled but also aware and excited about the company's big picture.
4. You haven't read any press articles. Stay up-to-date on what's going on with the company. Is it under some fire right now? Has it completed a major milestone? If you find news on the latter, mention it in the interview. The easiest way to do this is to set up Google alerts for the company name and CEO's name.
5. You're unclear about the role. You should know the job description like the back of your hand. Be prepared to talk about specific examples of the skills and experience that are necessary for the role—without hesitation. Again, it goes back to avoiding the long pause.
6. You haven't prepared a list of smart questions to ask them. You know the question is coming. At the end of the interview, there's always an opportunity to ask questions. Make sure you come prepared with a few great ones that specifically relate to the company or role. "Overall, talking in specifics will be much stronger than falling back on general statements (e.g., show, don't tell)," Simmons says. Practice talking concisely, he adds.
The more specific and insightful, the better, because "interviewers can tell if candidates are using common answers to tough questions as opposed to original ideas," Caroselli says.
7. Your answers aren't focused enough. If you try to say that you're up for anything or can do anything, they're not buying it. Be specific in describing how you will benefit the company, and be honest. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Instead, market your specialty.
Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information, and a free career happiness assessment.