You retired early envisioning your “retire early and often” lifestyle and beginning the encore career or downsized job of your dreams. You even scored an interview and feel like you nailed it but you have yet to get the call. Sorry, but you may have experienced Early Retiree Job Interview Failure without even knowing it.
During my second career I was asked to participate in job interviews with the management team. They liked to include some of us technical employees that may interact with the new hire. My task was to ask questions related to the interactions I would have with them in the position they were interviewing for. I was then to offer my feedback to the hiring manager after the interview. I was interested in the candidate’s technical competence. But I got to see and hear a few things that were eye-opening about how easy it is to flub an interview.
Here are a few things to make sure you don’t do when scoring that prized job interview.
Reasons to cause Early Retiree Job Interview Failure
Looking Sharp, or are you?
The first rule is just be yourself but dress professionally and conservatively. If you are on the quirky side of fashion, then showing that in your selected interviewing attire may not be the wisest decision. Don’t come off as desperately trying to stand out and please dress your age. When we get older we don’t want to dress out of date. But there are things best left to the younger generations.
Those new tight cut suits for young men just lose their appeal on older dudes. Even if you have the body to pull it off. Choose a Regular Tie over Bow-tie or Bolo-ties, etc.
If you are a pet owner then brush off your clothes before coming in. The interview team doesn’t need to spend the interview time figuring out the color of your cats. Or talking about it after you leave.
What Time Were You Expected?
Everyone knows you shouldn’t be late for your interview. Even worse is being late and then saying you would have called but you didn’t have the number with you. First off, bring names and numbers. That way you can tell folks if you are late for reasons beyond your control. Being late without a call will probably end your job selection chances.
Always get to the interview location 10 to 15 minutes before the appointed time. What I found interesting is people who came earlier than that annoyed the hell out of the hiring management team. Being told someone was sitting in the lobby waiting for 30 minutes seemed more than anyone wanted to deal with. They had things to finish that they scheduled during that time. If you are early and came in your car then it’s a good time to sit in the parking lot. Sit and prepare for the interview. Then walk in 10 to 15 minutes early as expected.
If you must go into the lobby earlier than that and need to announce yourself to reception then be ready to offer the name of who you are there to see. Ask reception to hold off announcing your early presence until 10 minutes before your interview appointment. If they must make the call immediately. Ask Reception to please tell them you are sorry for being so early and there is no need to rush.
Looks tasty, can I have a swig of that?
Don’t show up with your coffee cup or energy drink. In fact ditch that stuff before you even get to reception to avoid any awkward moments. Sometimes there isn’t a garbage can to quickly toss it before the interview. It looks bad to carry into an interview a cup or bottle of whatever hops you up. The most you should have if you need to is a small bottled water.
If you are offered coffee, soda, or water then NEVER take their coffee or soda. They are just being nice to offer them but they are not there to figure out your sugar and cream vs black coffee tendencies or whether you are a Coke or Pepsi, diet or regular soda drinker. If you are offered a drink and you are thirsty then accept only the water. You can come off as taking things way to casual and you need to treat the interview seriously. Keep things as professional as you can.
May I see Your ID?
Don’t leave your ID at home, in the car, in your other suit or purse, etc. It is the sign of the times to have building security in many places and you will miss your interview if you can’t prove who you are. The building I last worked at had visitors turn in their driver’s license and sign-in for a temporary visitor’s badge.
One last comment. Even if you can get in and have reception or the guard station call your interviewer to sign for you, what kind of first impression does that leave? Not a real good one. You are trying to sell yourself in the interview and missing details like not having your ID isn’t at all flattering.
Did I just see your Nose grow?
We all know that it isn’t smart to embellish your education and/or accomplishments on your resume but it goes twice for your interview. Stay truthful to a fault. Any indiscretion to the truth will be found out sooner or later. There was one interview I sat in on where the candidate was a cool as can be, confident, quick and had perfect answers to questions.
But then there was a technical question from a developer about the candidate’s experience in some application that he claimed experience with. He was awkward in answering and we all could tell that he was stretching the truth on his knowledge of the subject. He should have just admitted his knowledge and/or his experience limitations because if it’s important he won’t be able to fake it once hired.
Tell me more.
Your job during the interview is to make sure that they know you can do the job and everything that is asked of you without doubts. To do that you have to answer their interview questions with more than a Yes or No. You also need to answer with more than a Yes or No with only a few following words.
For example, “yes, I wrote test cases” is not a sufficient answer. It needs to be clear that you are in command of the subject and own the answer.
Example: “Yes, I developed and wrote test cases, performed all required testing from mediation input, through the correlation and enrichment process to the output destination file including all required support and results documentation”.
Just try not to sound like a buzz word robot. Add any of your own flair to your answer as long as it is professional.
Did you just Tweet a Thank You Note?
I get it. You may be flying high feeling like have you nailed the most important interview of your early retirement. You are ready to start your long and hard-fought encore career and you are excited. Instead of hugging the first stranger or throwing high fives around you log into your email and send a thank you note from your cell phone as you are leaving the building. BIG MISTAKE.
It will come off as shallow when you really want the thank you note to be professional and sincere. Think about the interview and wait until later once you get home and you can be thoughtful in your thank you. When sending thank you notes to multiple people you need to make them all unique to some degree so it doesn’t come off as a lazy copy to one and all. They may just compare them.
May you never read this and say to yourself: Wow I did ruin my chances in that interview. Darn it, I guess I was the cause of my Early Retiree Job Interview Failure.