These days, too many applicants are chasing too few jobs. The competition is fierce and HR managers and recruiters are using all sorts of techniques to weed out less than perfect candidates. Here are a few of their latest tricks:
The BFF routine. This is a common tactic interviewers use. And it often works unless you’re prepared for it. You sit down, talk about the Lakers, the Red Sox, or your favorite restaurant, maybe even share a joke. Before you know it, you’re talking trash about your former employer, your financial problems, marital woes, maybe even a fight you got into. Then on the way home, you mentally sober up and realize you provided way too much “information.”
The Silence. This a more recent trick some interviewers use. After you answer a particularly difficult question, they’ll give you the silent treatment and just stare at you, waiting for you to say something. They know that people hate awkward silences, and they’re hoping you’ll start blabbing about things they can use to weed you out of contention for the job. So return silence with silence. The interviewer will eventually start talking again. You can always end the silence with, “Did you need further clarification on your last question?”
"Could you start right away?" If you answer, “Sure, no problem,” the interviewer will assume that you’d leave your current employer hanging without due notice. They could also conclude that you’d do the same to them someday. Not good.
“Why are you leaving your present job?” Resist the temptation to complain about your job, your boss, fellow employees, low salary, benefits, office space, parking space, or anything that makes you look like a problem employee. Focus on the positive, and tell the interviewer how the position they’re offering dovetails with your career goals.
“What do you know about us?" They’re testing you to see how much digging you did before the interview. This is your chance to rattle off some stats about the company and “connect the dots” to your career goals.
Receptionist as “spy.” Resist the urge to chat with the receptionist. Many job seekers try to calm their nerves by talking to these “gatekeepers” about all sorts of personal and revealing topics. Some candidates even make the mistake of flirting with the receptionist. Bad form. And don’t overlook the possibility of hidden cameras in the receptionist area.
Dream vs Reality. Some interviewers will ask you about your ideal job. Don’t make the mistake of going off on a tangent—like selling your screenplay or becoming Kim Kardashian’s personal trainer. The interviewer will assume that you’re too much of a dreamer and not focused on the tasks and responsibilities of the job they’re offering.
So be warned, today’s interviewers are using all sorts of tactics to weed out the hundreds of job applicants they get for the plum job you’re applying for. So be prepared.