If someone asked how you prepare for a job interview, you’d likely rattle off the basics.
Updated resume? Check.
Valuable knowledge on the company you’re interviewing with? Of course.
Smart questions to ask your interviewer? You’ve got savvy inquiries for days.
So then, why aren’t you being called back for a second round interview? In fact, why isn’t your inbox chock full of follow up emails right about now?
Albeit, there could be a number of reasons why you’re not hearing back from a prospective job opening. The role could have been filled internally (like, by the VP’s nephew who needed a gig). But if you’re seeing a pattern where you’re landing job interviews without ever hearing back afterward, there’s likely something else that’s putting off potential employers that you’re not aware of.
Here are a few common culprits that keep candidates from securing a second interview, and how you can fix each one.
1. Your social media accounts
It’s not just your mom being a nag, it’s the cold hard truth. A whopping 68% of employers check the Facebook pages of job applicants. And if your privacy settings aren’t set accordingly, that keg stand from 2008 could be the reason why you’re not getting past first round interviews.
Whether you’re just starting your job search or are in the thick of it, do an assessment of your social media accounts to make sure that your privacy settings are set accordingly. Make sure that what you do opt to leave public presents you in a positive light: As someone who enjoys sharing relevant articles and information on industry trends. Not someone who asks followers for their take on last night’s party rager.
2. Your digital footprint
In this day and age, it’s almost impossible not to have left some sort of digital footprint. Even if your name is very common, you can still be found easily if employers have the name of your school or hometown to tag on to their search. And you can bet that employers are taking advantage of this – 77% of employers, to be exact.
What comes up when you Google yourself? To find out, clear your cache to start with a clean slate, and take a look at what comes up when you Google your name, as well as your name and your current and past titles, companies and current location. If it’s still pulling up your Myspace or Livejournal, now would probably a good time to delete those relics.
If you want to take your search a step further, resources like BrandYourself provide a free look at how you appear in the eyes of an employer, and can even give you insights into where searches for your name are coming from.
3. Your email address
You might think having CatLady143 as your email address is purrfectly acceptable. But for employers, it comes off as unprofessional. If you’re serious about your job search, it’s a good idea to create a fresh, clean email address that’s as closely tied to your name as possible. If you have a common name and are struggling to secure an email address that centers around it, try using underscores or periods to break your name up. If that doesn’t solve the problem, something that involves your profession (for me, something like CareerCoachAshleyStahl) will still cast you in a professional light.
If you’re still using an old school email provider like AOL or Yahoo, consider choosing a different provider, like Google or Outlook, which shows employers that you’re up to speed with the latest email updates.
4. Your exit
I’m not talking about the firm handshake you give at the close of your interview. So many people leave the interview boardroom and give themselves permission to “turn off” as they leave the building and walk to their car… Don’t do this! Wait until you have completely left the premises before you slip off your heels and start trolling Facebook. You should still be in professional interview mode until you’re completely out of sight—this does not mean the parking lot; this means a different postal code. Pay attention to how you’re walking to your car, and don’t pop open your phone and start making calls yet.
5. Your timeslot
Of course, sometimes this is one is out of your control. But if you’re asked to give a day and time that works for you to have the interview, lean towards the middle of the week, mid morning.
Why? Early morning meetings are not ideal, because studies show that interviewers are more occupied with their morning catch up. To put this into perspective, the first interviewer of the day only lands the job 17 percent of the time.
Being the last meeting of the day is also not ideal. A study done by the National Academy of Science actually found that parole officers rarely grant parole later in the day, because decision fatigue kicks in, and the ability to examine documents thoroughly goes out the window.
As for day of the week, midweek is ideal since your interviewer won’t be playing Monday catch up, or have his or her thoughts drift off to plans for the weekend during your Friday interview.
It’s alarming, but it’s true: Many things we view as trivial can actually make or break you during the interview process. Don’t let an old Facebook post or poor interview time slot get in the way of scoring your dream job.
Harness the power of being an informed interviewee – and start making room in your inbox for those second round interview requests.
This first appeared in Forbes.