Everyone makes mistakes. Even the most seasoned executive has flubbed a step or two along the job-hunting path yet has still gone on to attain corporate stardom.
The truth is: one mistake won’t define you. Not even two mistakes. It’s the pattern of mistakes that pose a problem.
Job seekers, no matter how hard they try, can’t quite reach the level of perfection that makes them superhuman. And while it may seem unfair for interviewers to expect this high level of excellence from their potential employee candidates, the fact is: they do.
So what’s a job seeker to do? Forget the Alamo – remember the little things. Typos, inappropriate comments, late arrivals, follow-ups.
It’s important to remember that a hiring manager only gets to see a small piece of each person being considered – a sliver of information of which to base a decision on. Arriving late or bombing one interview question may not seem like a big deal to you, but it sends up a red flag for the interviewer.
What do you do when you make a mistake? Don’t panic. While the hiring manager is expecting that Utopian state of perfection, they know they aren’t going to get it. How you handle a mini-disaster will better define you than the mistake itself.
First of all, acknowledge the misstep. You know it happened. The interviewer knows it happened. You are under a microscope. Don’t hope that it won’t be noticed – it already has been.
Second, if it’s out of character for you, don’t be afraid to say so. If you have otherwise been outstanding in the interview process, the hiring manager will likely consider overlooking one faux pas as long as it’s a sign of what’s to come. Assure them it’s not your usual way of handling yourself.
Little things – beyond the typos and tardiness – can make or break you. Do you make eye contact during a conversation? Is your handshake firm enough but not too firm? Do you have copies of your resume ready to take to the interview? How about a pen? Business cards? Did you remember to say thank you? Not just at the end of the interview – did you follow up with a thank you letter?
No, the little things aren’t going to showcase your expertise. They aren’t going to show the hiring manager how hard you’ve worked through the entire job search. But, polishing these little things will help you stand out and move you to the top of the job search pyramid.