Job Interviews - What Am I Doing Wrong

So you've sent out tons of resumes, and gone on lots of job interviews, but you still haven't been offered a job. What are you doing wrong? Is it you? Are hiring managers just idiots who don't recognize a wonderful employee when they see one? What's going on?

Perhaps you should go down this list of a few of the most common reasons people who get the interview don't get the job, and see if any of them apply to you.

1. You're underqualified: Let's say one of the main job requirements, as listed on the job posting, is "Knowledge of Simply Accounting." You get an interview on the basis of your great resume, which states "Excellent computer abilities." The interview is going really well, till the hiring manager says, "Tell me what you like best about Simply Accounting." This is when you say, "Oh, ah, well, I've never actually used Simply Accounting. I'm very good at manual accounting, though. And I'm a fast learner!" Chances are, in the hiring manager's mind, the interview ended right there. Bottom line: If it's revealed at an interview that you lack one of the main requirements of the job, it's extremely unlikely you'll be hired, no matter how much they like you, and no matter how good an impression you make.

2. You're overqualified: A friend of mine went to a job interview for data entry clerk. Most of her previous jobs had been as a high level executive assistant, but a series of unfortunate circumstances forced her to apply for this job. She walked in very professionally dressed, with her resume, letters of recommendation, and portfolio. She says she knew almost immediately that she wouldn't get the job - she was so obviously overqualified. She admits that the person who refused to hire her was in fact correct. Within a week or two, she would have been bored out of her mind, and would have left as soon as she found a job more suited to her abilities. Bottom line: It doesn't matter how desperately you need work, if you're clearly overqualified, the hiring manager will worry that if you get the job, you won't stay. In fact, he could be right!

3. You come across as too high maintenance: Even if you meet every possible requirement of the job perfectly, you may not get hired if you go into the interview with a list of demands. If you spend part of the interview grilling the interviewer about salary, benefits, perks, time off, vacation, etc. they might decide you're going to be way too much trouble, and hire someone who just seems thrilled to get the job. Bottom line: The interview is not the place to ask about salary, or list all your expectations. Leave that until they actually offer you the job.

4. You make a bad impression: There are many ways to make a bad impression: sloppy, overly casual clothing, bad habits (swearing, gum chewing), answering your cell phone, acting jittery or bored, talking way too much or too little, having poor hygiene. Bottom line: If you make a bad enough impression, you probably won't get hired, no matter how qualified you are. Ask a close and trusted friend or relative if there's anything about your manner and appearance you need to work on. You probably won't enjoy hearing the unvarnished truth, but it could make a big difference. Or you could sign up for some job interview coaching. It will more than pay for itself if you get the job.

At the same time, It's important to keep in mind that nowadays there are usually many, many applicants for every job. You can't always assume there's something wrong with you, just because they decided to hire someone else. Looking for work is hard enough without getting overly self-critical and down on yourself. You need a measure of confidence to face the whole job search process successfully.

Still, if you've been interviewing a lot, and weeks or months have gone by without a single offer, try checking out this list to see if anything rings a bell. Don't give up - your dream job is out there.

Lorraine E. Wright is the owner of 21st Century Resumes, a company that designs technology-friendly, attention-grabbing resumes and cover letters. She customizes them uniquely for each job seeker, so they stand out in today's crowded and competitive job market. To get a free assessment of your own resume, go to