Candidates say and do all sorts of things during the hiring process. Many of those things occur during the face-to-face interview, one of the most crucial phases of the process. Unfortunately, sometimes what is said and done does NOT help the candidate receive an offer of employment. No, just the opposite: they’re no longer considered for the position in question.
It probably does not surprise you that I have a case study that deals with this topic. Here’s what happened. . . .
A case study “too big” for its britches
One of our clients recently interviewed candidates for a director-level position within their organization. During the face-to-face interview, one of the candidates made a comment about him being possibly “too big for the position” due to the fact that he has a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree. In other words, the candidate thought that because he had an MBA, he was “too big” to be considered for the director-level position.
Now, having a MBA degree is a good thing. However, it does not necessarily make someone “too big” for a director-level position. And as you will see, it was the wrong thing to say.
That’s because the hiring manager in this particular instance was also the Vice President of the company. The VP did not appreciate the comment. As a result, they no longer considered the person a viable candidate for the position.
Here are three possible scenarios for how this situation unfolded:
- The candidate really DID believe that he was “too big” for the position. If that was the case, then he was probably okay with the fact that he was no longer considered for it.
- The candidate didn’t believe that he was “too big” for the position. However, by proclaiming his belief that he was perhaps “too big,” he was hoping to make himself sound more attractive to the hiring manager. If that was the case, then he was probably sorely disappointed by the outcome.
- The candidate was honestly undecided about whether or not he was “too big” for the position. Perhaps he had just thought of it at the moment and blurted it out. If that was the case, then he might be left wondering if the reason that he wasn’t considered was because he was “too big” OR because the hiring manager considered the statement to be a turnoff. Either way, it ended badly.
Your #1 goal during the interview
It doesn’t matter if you really are “too big” for a position or not. You do NOT wonder aloud during the face-to-face interview about whether you are. Nothing good will come of it, especially, not after the company has spent hundreds of dollars to fly you to an interview.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the number-one goal of the interview is to get an offer of employment.
With that in mind, below is a list of things that you should NOT do during the interview:
- Make a decision about the job one way or the other. (There’s really no decision to make; you haven’t received an offer yet. Nobody is asking you to make a decision right now.)
- Wonder aloud whether the position is right for you. (Once again, there is no decision to make, either out loud or inside your head.)
- Last by not least, suggest that perhaps you are “too big” for the position. It’s okay to make that determination . . . after the interview is over and after you’ve received an offer of employment.
There are a few reasons why an organization’s hiring officials would make an offer of employment to a candidate. That’s because they believe that candidate is going to:
- Make the company money
- Save the company money
- Add value to the company
This actually makes it easy to determine your priorities during the face-to-face interview. You must use your past accomplishments to show the hiring officials that you can do one of these three things. (Or ideally, that you can do all three things.) That means you must illustrate and prove the following facts:
- How you made your current and past employers money
- How you saved your current and past employers money
- The value that you added to your current and past employers
When it comes to illustrating these things, you must use specific examples with quantifiable data. What exactly did you do to make what amount of profit for a company? What exactly did you do to save a certain amount of money? Be specific and not general. Have concrete numbers on hand.
The offer is NOT a foregone conclusion
So let’s go back to our case study. Did making a comment about possibly being “too big for the position” because the candidate had a MBA degree illustrate that the candidate made his current and past employers money? It did not.
Did it illustrate that the candidate saved his current and past employers money? It did not.
Did it illustrate that the candidate added value to his current and past employers? It did not.
Call that “strike three.” You can not impress an employer with the degrees that you’ve earned. You can not impress an employer by wondering whether or not you’re a fit for the position. You can not impress an employer by doing anything other than focusing on the three priorities outlined above.
So while you’re in the interview, think about nothing other than what you must do to receive an offer of employment. Do not think about anything else, including what you might do once you receive that offer. An offer of employment is NOT a foregone conclusion.
Until you receive an offer, you have no decision to ponder, so there’s no reason to worry about making a decision. Don’t go into an interview worrying about whether or not you’re going to accept an offer that you haven’t received yet. And don’t worry during the interview about whether or not you’ll accept an offer.
There is no offer until you are presented with one. And there is no decision to make until you receive one. So pay more attention to what you need to do to receive an offer of employment instead of what you might do if you receive one.
That will lead to more interview success, more offers, and more options and opportunities for career advancement.
We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.