5 Surefire Ways NOT to Land an Interview - America's Future

June 24, 2019

Career Advice

5 Surefire Ways NOT to Land an Interview

By: Claire Kittle Dixon

A friend recently suggested that I write a Talent Tip on how to land a job interview. Brilliant idea! Especially since candidates are frequently asking the same thing.

But, given what we see and hear every day from job applicants and clients, I thought it might be more useful (and a wee bit more entertaining) to start with advice on the inverse.

So, sit back and enjoy the following five surefire ways to NOT land a job interview.

1. Do not follow directions. As I’ve been telling people for years, job application instructions are for those who lack creativity. Think outside the lines!

For example, if the organization requests four separate items in the job application, you need to submit only two, maybe three tops. You’re just as busy as the hiring manager — why not save everybody some time?

Likewise, if the organization asks you to provide salary requirements, disregard this request. Remember: asking for salary requirements on a job application is the equivalent of asking someone if he wants to have kids on the first date! It’s way too early to try to figure out if we’re actually going to be a match! We can get to that critical information on the fourth or fifth date/interview.

And if the organization requests that application materials be sent to someone in human resources, this is merely a suggestion. Let’s face it: no one likes dealing with a middle man! (Not even the middle man himself!) If possible, send your information directly to the president or, if you’re feeling really frisky, maybe even the chairman of the board.

Not following directions sends a clear signal: you are not one of the sheeple! You flout convention and think for yourself. (And you’re going to be a real handful on the job!)

2. Submit a generic cover letter. By definition, nonprofits exist to fulfill a mission. So, you might be tempted to think writing about your interest in an organization’s mission would make for a good cover letter. Wrong answer, my friend!

A generic cover letter is all you need. Why write something personal that demonstrates your passion when you can just write “I’m excited to work for your company” and be done with it? (And nonprofits love it when you refer to their 501(c)3 as a company. It shows how much you care.)

Furthermore, if you actually take the time to explain why the organization’s mission resonates with you and why your background is a good fit, you’re going to come across as an overachiever. And if you remember anything from high school, you know that no one likes an overachiever.

3. Write a cocky cover letter. They say you have to toot your own horn during your job search. Following that logic, wouldn’t it be even better to lay on the horn, swerve in and out of traffic, and give an obscene gesture to other motorists? I think so!

Here are some surefire ways to show them you know who’s best (you!):
-Start your cover letter letter with a promise of greatness such as, “I am the best candidate for this job” or “Look no further! You’ve found your next ______!” Yes, these are bold assertions given you have no clue who else has applied for the job, but don’t let that stop you. Toot, toot, toot that horn!
-If your cover letter contains 23 sentences, make sure 24 of them start with “I”. No exceptions.

4. Provide outlandish salary requirements. Whatever you do, make sure to ask for a ludicrous amount of money that bears no relation to your experience or background. Not sure how to calculate that number? Here’s a formula: (current salary x 2.7) + $35,000 = your absurd salary requirements.

Remember: nonprofits have limited funding and scarce resources, but the money has to go somewhere! If they can pay you $115K for your two years of work experience, that’s just less work for the accounting department!

5. Do not proofread your application materials. You’ve heard stories about candidates who didn’t land an interview because of spelling and/or grammatical errors in their applications, right? Maybe back in the 90s! Nowadays, no one cares about such minutia! Social media and the Twittersphere have deadened our senses to trivial matters such as spelling and grammar. The Age of Covfefe is here. Embrace it!