First interviews are a bit like first dates. You really like the other party, you do your best to impress them and then you sit back and hope they call you. So what happens if they hardly ever call?
Assuming you are applying for roles that you are qualified for you need to take a good look at yourself and the way you are coming across during the first interview. There are 6 main reasons why you are failing to progress though to the second interview.
6 Reasons You Don’t Get Past The First Interview:
1. Cultural Incompatibility
Whenever a company advertises a role they are looking for someone who has the skills & experience to perform the job as well as the personality & attitude to fit nicely in with the existing team. It’s not enough to just meet the skills and experience criteria. Issues arise when:
- The company has a cultural problem already and are looking for a specific personality to balance things out
- Company has a casual, outgoing culture and you, in your effort to look professional come across as too formal and structured
- Company is very corporate and you seem to have a more casual approach
If you suspect this is an issue then take the time to investigate the company culture before you even apply for future roles. Apply for those that best suit you and adjust your style a little to appear like a perfect fit.
2. Short Term Joy
If the employer perceives that you are not going to stay with hem for very long there is little chance you will progress through to a second interview. Things that make employees look short term include:
- Focus too much on next steps and your career progress rather than how perfect you are for the current role
- Bring up pay and company benefits before you have proven you are worth the discussion
- Are overqualified or appear as if the current role is beneath you
The best way to avoid this is to remember that employers care about how you will make their life easier and how quickly you can do that. Focus on how you best meet their needs especially during the first interview.
3. Look Like Hard Work
As above, you need to address the employers needs. If you appear like hard work you will be quickly eliminated from the process. This could inadvertently happen if:
- You are applying for roles where you are under qualified and look like you will need a lot of training and development
- You ask lots of questions about benefits, training, future development and seem like you care more about you that the role or the company
Focus on the company needs during this interview and touch on your own. During the second interview you can send some more time on you.
4. Look Desperate
If you come across as desperate for the role you can pretty much guarantee failure. This occurs for a few reasons:
- If you look too desperate they think no one else wants you therefore you must not be a very good candidate
- You look like you will become a needy employee which is hard work in any workplace
- You appear as if you will bring your problems to work especially if you mention why you need the job so badly
Play it cool, show interest in the role and come across as confident. Never ever mention that you need the job or give any personal reasons why you want it.
5. Aptitude or Psychometric Results
It is unusual that a company will conduct these tests after a first interview, generally they come as a sanity check after the second interview. However, more and more nowadays the testing is being used to help short list the candidates from the first interview. It may be that:
- You scored poorly in the aptitude test
- Your personality profile was not consistent with the needs of the team or company
- There is not much you can do about the aptitude scores but the personality is much like the cultural fit. Do more homework next time and find out what they are looking for in terms of personality and emotional intelligence.
6. Failure to Sell Yourself
You role during the first interview is to do your best to sell yourself to the employer. Sometimes candidates fail to do this not because they are not qualified or talented but because they may:
- Be worried they will come across as too confident or arrogant
- Feel they are already overqualified for the role and still want to be in with a chance
- Have not prepared great answers that show what they can do and the results they are capable of achieving
The key is preparation and practice. Look up the most common behavioural interview questions and write great answers using the STAR technique. Then practice mock interviews with friends to get your tone and manner right.
Think about the first interviews you have been on recently. Do you think you have made any of the mistakes below? Make some adjustments to your preparation and you are guaranteed to do better at your next interview.