Job interviews can be a stressful experience: Your resume and cover letter got you through the first cut, but then you have to prove that you not only have the skills necessary to do the job, but also the right personality to fit in. Many people leave an interview feeling unsure of how they did and wondering whether they will get a call back.
One in a while, you might leave an interview feeling like your game was on and you aced it. While it’s a great feeling when you’re sure you did well, don’t assume that you will receive a job offer. If you did particularly well, your résumé might make it to the top of the stack, but there are certain things you can do — or fail to do — that will move you far down the list. These five actions will ensure that you don’t get a second interview or a job offer.
Failing to follow up
Thank-you letters are not out of date or out of style. Writing a letter to say that you appreciated the interviewer’s time will let them know that you are courteous and that you are taking the position seriously and going after it.
This letter also gives you another chance to reiterate why you are a good fit for the job, which can be an important step even if you had a successful interview, because the interviewer will most likely be going over several different candidates. If possible, send an actual letter instead of an email, unless the person you are thanking indicated that email is his or her preferred means of communication. This sample letter from Monster can help you get started.
Not clarifying issues
Interviewers can be intimidating, so if you realize after your interview that you made a mistake, you should clarify as soon as possible. You can do this by emailing or writing to your interviewer; calling is probably not necessary. If you aced your interview but you realize later that you misspoke about a previous job or your experience, you are better off clearing up the mistake as soon as possible.
Otherwise, you risk having the interviewer call references, who might accidentally make the problem worse. Everyone gets nervous, so it’s best to clarify any instances in which you misspoke during the interview. This doesn’t mean you need to account for every time you made a little mistake, like a grammatical error (doing so would be detrimental) — just clear up anything that might appear inconsistent with your résumé or what your references will say, if necessary.
Being too desperate
While it’s a good idea to thank the person who interviewed you, you also want to avoid appearing desperate. Confidence is important in a job search, but it’s easy for confidence to falter if you have to wait for a long time to hear about a job decision. If you leave an interview and feel confident but you don’t hear anything for a while, it is completely reasonable to write or call to check on the status of the search.
However, avoid desperate comments like “I really need this job,” or complaints about the process. Don’t call or email too often. According to The Ladders, appearing desperate can be a big turnoff for employers. This relates to the interview itself — you don’t want to say yes to duties that you really are not comfortable doing. However, you also don’t want to seem desperate after the interview, either, so be confident but give your potential employer space to make a decision, too.
Being too informal
No matter how well your interview went or how great you got along with the interviewer, don’t go planning future golf outings or imagining funny instant message conversations just yet. You don’t have the job offer in hand, and even if you did, a very chummy boss-employee relationship is rare.
It isn’t appropriate to act like you are already friends — you may only ever be coworkers, and if you push a relationship too much, you might not get a job offer at all. Although you want the interviewer to think you are likable, that is something that you should have achieved during the interview itself. It also isn’t appropriate to informally call the interviewer or to use Facebook to contact or “friend” them. Doing so will make you appear pushy but also show that you don’t understand appropriate boundaries.
Not being honest about your interest
It’s important to let the person who interviewed you know immediately if you decide that the job isn’t right for you. As much of a confidence booster as getting a job offer can be, it’s a waste of the interviewer’s time, your time, and the rest of the candidates’ time if you are not honest. If you decide that the job isn’t a good fit, do everyone a favor and let the person who interviewed you know that you are no longer interested as soon as possible. While not being honest won’t stop you from getting a job offer, it may hurt your chances with the company in the future if you decide to go after a different job there.
If you end up deciding that the position isn’t going to work after you get the actual offer, it’s a good idea to write a letter declining the job. According to Monster, you should be prompt, courteous, diplomatic, and concise. These same tips would also help you if you need to write a letter before the job is actually offered to you. Assuming you will be offered the job will appear arrogant, but you should concisely and respectfully ask to be removed from consideration.