July 2014

Get a Job

Mauri Schwartz

Q:  I’ve been getting a lot of telephone interviews which have gone really well and resulted in invitations for on-site face-to-face meetings.  However, I can’t seem to get a job offer.  I’m very capable of the positions, and feel sure that my answers are good, but they just aren’t comfortable with me for some reason.  What should I do?

A:  Managers hire employees for two reasons:  they believe you can do the job and they’re comfortable with you and feel that you’ll be able to work well with the team. You probably are addressing the former to get past the phone screens and to an in-person meeting, but perhaps not the latter, since the main difference between a telephone and in-person interview may be how you physically present yourself.  

Most people focus on trying to be more professional during an interview than they are with friends.  However, some go too far and are overly formal in language, tone, presentation, and even posture.  This may be fine in financial institutions and consulting firms, but even then the interviewer wants to know you as a person.  

In many work environments these days, especially startups, the culture is exactly the opposite from formal, though I recommend that you dress and present a step or two up from that culture.  However, if your attire is too formal, your language too precise, and you sit rigidly on the edge of your chair, you may make the interviewers feel uncomfortable.  It’s important that you match the interviewers’ voice tone and body language.  You need to find a happy medium between being the best you can be professionally and meeting your audience at their level.  

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