Skip to main content
2 answers
Asked 714 views Translate

What are the top 3 mistakes applicants make?

As a student I've send out many applications, whether it was for an internship, job or for enrolling into a school. There have been more times where I got rejected than being accepted. It always made me wonder, 'did the other applicants have better grades or awards?' or 'did I just not fit their description?'. If you have reviewed applicants or interviewed someone before, please tell me your stories and tell me what made them a good or bad applicant. Can't wait to hear them :) #college-admissions #hiring #admissions #job-interview #creative-internship

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you


2 answers

Updated Translate

Matthew’s Answer

This is definitely a solid question to ask, especially as you consider the next season of life and how to prepare for it. First and foremost, communication skills - both written and verbal/non-verbal - are critical. For example, I have reviewed several applicants' essays and resumes for various jobs, and if I detect any kind of spelling or grammatical errors (just in the written portion of the application), I don't see the applicant as a viable candidate for employment. Successful businesses thrive on great communication, and if an applicant can't show that he/she can communicate on paper, then I move on to the next application. In addition to written communication, it's critical that applicants remember the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication. Another example: dressing appropriately for the occasion. I've advised several high school students who were applying for part-time jobs, and some of them wore clothes that were either too revealing or lacked a sense of polish and professionalism for the interview. Finally, in this particular area of communication, eye contact is critical. We're more likely to listen and have others listen to us when we make eye contact with them!
Secondly, conducting research on the company for which you're applying for employment is also vitally important. Be prepared to face questions about yourself and add what you've learned about the company in your answers. Blending these two things together will make a stronger impression on the interviewer and the company as they seek to fill the position.
Finally, when you land an interview, no matter the outcome, it doesn't hurt to send some kind of "thank you" letter for the opportunity to the person who conducted the interview. It shows you were intentional about expressing gratitude for the chance to discuss the position. Even if you're not selected to receive an offer, you stick out among the other candidates, and sometimes that makes all the difference!

Best of luck!

Thank you comment icon Thank you for your response Matthew! You emphasized the importance of different kinds of communication from verbal to written, and I agree with you, "successful businesses thrive on great communication". I think I made the mistake of not communicating enough, whether it was to the school I was applying to or the internship I wanted. I really like the idea of sending some sort of a "thank you" letter, it definitely makes the person stand out and says a lot about the person's dedication. I'll definitely remember these tips for future applications and interview, thank you! Anudari
Thank you comment icon Anudari, you're quite welcome! I'm thankful for the opportunity to help you! Matthew Armes, MS, NCC, NCSC, LPC
Updated Translate

Gabriel’s Answer

Hi Anduari,

Thanks for taking the time to ask an important question. There are a variety of factors to be considered, but here are the top 3 reasons why I haven't personally hired some applicants:

1) Their resume and/or application was either poorly formatted/worded or it didn't specifically address why they wanted the position they were applying for.

2) Poor communication/interview skills: To be clear, I am referring specifically to an applicant's inability to articulate their previous experiences, why they are interested in the position, etc. I've seen incredible applications and resumes only for the person to arrive at the interview unable to answer the most basic questions.

3) Not doing their research: I've been amazed at how many applicants haven't done the most basic research about the position and/or company they are applying to. The see a job, do a quick scan, and, if they pass the resume the screening, come to the interview almost completely unprepared (kinda goes along with #2).

So, with that said, I would encourage you to ask people for advice and have them review your resume, cover letters, or anything else you are supplying to an employer. I also strongly encourage you to practice your interview skills. Ask someone who has conducted interviews to conduct "mock interviews" with you where the ask common interview questions. Then get their feedback on how to improve. And, of course, learn as much as you can about the company and position you are applying for. Make notes and use the notes to build questions that you can ask at an interview.

Remember this: Applying for a job is a two-way street. Many employers think they hold all the cards in their hand, but the job has to be a fit for BOTH of you. Ask good questions and if something doesn't seem right, ask them to clarify. I once attended an interview in which the person who was going to be my direct supervisor couldn't offer me any specifics about what I would be doing day-to-day... not even after I asked questions. They offered me the job, but I declined because I didn't feel right about it... and I haven't regretted the decision! =)

I'm sure others will have a different take, but I hope this advice gives you a place to start. Good luck!

Thank you comment icon Thank you Gabriel! You have given me a lot of good advice and some pointers that I need to be aware of and avoid. It was interesting to know that it's important to specify why you're applying for the position, because I have not once mentioned the reason in my resumes or e-mails and that's definitely a big mistake. I agree about having someone review my work (resume, application) prior to sending it off, there can be instances where I might have missed a question or made a mistake somewhere. There was a lot to take away from your answer, so I jotted everything down into my notes. p.s my name was misspelled :) Anudari
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Anudari and I am so sorry I misspelled your name! =) Oh, and one thing I should add to specifying why you want to the job is to consider writing a "Pain Letter" in lieu of the traditional cover letter. Liz Ryan, one of the foremost experts on all things HR, has some great advice on how to craft a pain letter at this link: Gabriel Figliuzzi