Resumes Open Doors, But Interviews Close the Deal

You pore over job announcements, apply only to the ones that seem written just for you, and tailor your cover letter to include key words that will capture the attention of the screener. You charm the hiring manager, ace the interview, and strike the perfect tone in your thank you letters.

Then, your dream job emails to thank you for being among the many qualified candidates, tells you it is moving forward with another candidate, and wishes you good luck in your career goals.

What happened? Sometimes it seems there’s a vast conspiracy keeping you from getting a job offer. It is easy to imagine the position never was truly “open,” but that the interview process was mere window dressing before the company appointed a marginally qualified “boss’s pet.” As the perfect candidate, you can be forgiven for assigning sinister motives to the interviewer. She thought you were too old, too short, or too pretty, and she allowed that bias to deprive you of a job you deserved.

All those scenarios are possible, of course, but it is more likely that the home run you thought you hit in the interview was more like a swing and a miss.

Take stock of your interview style to make sure you do not strike out the next time you step up to the plate:


  • Swing for the fences – Even the best candidates cannot win if they don’t take the bat off their shoulder. A job interview is no time for passivity or modesty. It may be natural to resist overconfidence, especially if you have been disappointed after hitting it out of the park in previous interviews. Confidence in the interview, however, serves as a proxy for competence on the job. It is critical to show the interviewer that you have confidence that your experience, education, and abilities will lead you to success in the position.


  • Don’t grandstand – Walk the fine line between confidence and arrogance. Even if you are the Babe Ruth of network engineering, letting your would-be boss know that you feel you know more than she does is not the path toward gainful employment. Being a know-it-all is a turn-off at a cocktail party; no one wants to spend 40 hours a week with one. It is best to take a page from the author’s handbook: Show, don’t tell. Use anecdotes, examples, past projects and a history of success to demonstrate your management and leadership chops, rather than harping on how you were always the smartest person in the room at your previous job.


  • Dress for Success- You would be surprised how many qualified people bomb the interview simply because of how they present during the meeting. We all believe that when dating and interviewing, you are seeing the very best version of someone. When a candidate shows up for an interview in a wrinkled shirt, or  needing a haircut, it is not hard to imagine what they are going to look like a month or two into the job . Iron your shirt, shine your shoes, and put some effort into making sure that you look the part.


  • Role Play  – Practicing your responses to standard interview questions will help you deliver your answers in a concise, confident manner .Google the 50 most common interview questions, and practice saying them.  Role Play with someone why you left your previous jobs, making sure you deliver your information in a positive, upbeat manner. You know you are going to be asked about job changes, so practice your responses . Behavioral interviews are increasingly common these days, so you can bet you are going to be asked about your most challenging situations in your previous roles. Google the 50 most common Behavioral Interview Questions and give some thought about your answer,  and then practice your delivery. Even Academy Award winning actors rehearse. Considering the average professional only has the chance to interview every 5 years, there is every reason to dust off your interview skills by role playing and rehearsing your responses to likely questions prior to your meeting.


  • Be a team player – While the potential employer is using the interview to learn as much about you as it can in a limited time frame, you should be framing your abilities in a way that shows how they will help the company. To paraphrase President Kennedy, ask not what the company can do for you; tell what you can do for the company. There is rarely if ever a time when a project is completed by one person. Make a point of sharing the praise of past teammates, and talk about how you have worked as a team with positive results. Creating synergy is a powerful ability and talking about prior group projects will showcase your ability to work well within a team.


  • Show your enthusiasm for the role! -When all things are equal, the person that shows the most enthusiasm for the job will be offered the position. We often  hear that the reason candidates do not follow up after an interview is because they do not want to appear desperate. Keep in mind that there is a world of difference between appearing interested, and desperate. By signaling your interest in a role, saying that you believe the job is a perfect fit for your skills and aspirations, it signals great things to the hiring manager. No one wants to hire someone that appears lukewarm on the opportunity. At the close of every interview, share your increased interest  in the job, and ask if there are any concerns at this point that would keep you from moving forward in the interview process .  By showing excitement at the prospect of joining someones team, and expressing passion for the opportunity, you can put yourself miles ahead of the competition.


The best candidates have the best resumes; that’s why they get invited to interviews. The best candidates, however, don’t necessarily have the best interviewing skills; that’s why they don’t always get hired. “Every day, candidates who are perfectly qualified on paper will be rejected after they interview because they were unable to connect themselves to the position they are applying for, they couldn’t articulate themselves, or they created some kind of doubt in the minds of the interviewers,” according to HR writer Brad Bingham. “It’s not enough to have a stunning résumé and know in your own heart that you are the best candidate for the job; you have to make someone else believe it, person to person, word by word – and every detail counts.”