Q: I'm looking for a new job, and have gotten some interviews, even callbacks. But I still haven't been selected; what am I doing wrong?
A: Either job fit or self-presentation could be factors to consider.
The inner game
Job searching is difficult for most people and takes a lot of energy. The ups and downs and adrenaline surges can be hard to weather, so your first task is to get your emotions under control. Take some deep breaths and let yourself relax.
Think about the interviews you've had. There's probably been quite a variety of experiences — some where you felt really confident and others that didn't seem to go that well. In order to understand the patterns, try describing each interview, the dynamics, the needs of the position and the outcome of the interview.
Now consider the interviews from a "job-fit" perspective. Do you think you actually do have the skills needed? Or, are the jobs different than you thought when you applied or more of a stretch of your existing skills?
It's another matter if you have the right background and still don't advance. In some cases, the company doesn't see the fit — that's a communication issue on your part. In others, they may see the job fit but there may be some other, more subjective, reason you're not being selected. There is a "likability" aspect to interviewing, so if nerves or shyness hold you back, they may not be able to picture working with you.
Finally, think about preparation. Plan your responses and research the company and your interviewers.
The outer game
To get a different result, it's time to refresh your approach to interviews, making the most of the time before each one.
Learn about the people you'll be meeting. Use LinkedIn to find out about their areas of responsibility and their backgrounds. Take it to another level and think about what they need from the person they're hiring.
Think about the questions you might face and how you've answered similar questions in the past. Plan and practice so that you're polished — but not over-rehearsed. Ideally, do a mock interview with someone who will throw in some curve balls. And even if you're practicing alone, say your responses aloud. It truly has a different effect on your preparation.
Keep a journal of your interviews so that you can notice patterns of what worked and what didn't. Reward yourself for your successes and let go of areas where you felt you fell short.
The last word
Take a new approach to interview preparation so that you can get the results you seek.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, leadership coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.