30 Interviews and No Offers: Is the Economy that Bad?

Bad Economy | Shutterstock.comDear J.T. & Dale: I’ve been unemployed for five months. During those five months, I’ve had 13 face-to-face interviews, three long phone interviews and 15 phone screens, but no offers. I’ve been told I interview well, and have had coaching in a job club. Is the economy still that bad? — Paul

Dale: The economy is NEVER that bad. A bad economy means people stop hiring, which means they stop interviewing, and here you’ve had more than 30 interviews in five months.

J.T.: That is some kind of record. Which means, Paul, you must be doing something right! The average length of unemployment right now is around seven months, so you’re still not to the average.

Dale: Hold on. This is not the time to be reassuring. OK, so maybe it isn’t time to panic, not yet, but it’s quarter-till panic. Your getting all those interviews means that you have some special skill or experience that’s in high demand. To go 0-for-13 in face-to-face interviews suggests you should consider two possibilities: (A) One of your references is selling you out, so you’ll need to get a friend to call and check your references to make sure everything is OK. (B) You’re making a mistake in interviews, something that wouldn’t come out in practice interviews with people outside the profession. My guess is you’re working too hard to impress hiring managers and thus are coming across as a know-it-all, which they see as someone who’s going to come in and start telling everyone what they’re doing wrong.

J.T.: Dale’s right that the person who gets hired is the one who is seen as fitting in best; but Paul, please don’t start second-guessing everything you’ve been doing. You’re doing great, and there’s a simple solution for interviewing: Start devoting more time to asking questions of hiring managers. For instance:

—What kind of personality would work best in this job?

—What would be the ideal demeanor?

—What style of communication would be best received?

Dale: The genius of those questions is that by asking them, you are telling management, without boasting, that you are concerned about “fit” and that you understand the human side of the job.

J.T.: Plus, when they answer, they’re telling you what they want to hear. Before your next interview, think through their likely answers, and have responses ready. For example, if they talk about “patience,” you’re ready with an example of when patience paid off in your work. Do that and you’ll be showing that you know fit matters, and that will make you someone who fits.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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