What to Do When You’re Getting Interviews but No Offers, with Lorraine Rise

Listen On:

Nothing is more frustrating for a job seeker than to think an interview went well and then to find out that someone else got the job. If this is happening to you on a regular basis, it could be a matter of not being prepared enough. Find Your Dream Job guest Lorraine Rise suggests sharing a few examples of career success that address the specific challenges of the open position. Be specific in your answers, and don’t be afraid to own both your strengths and your weaknesses. Practice your interview answers with a friend or in a mirror, and go in with confidence. 

About Our Guest:

Lorraine Rise is a coach, a podcaster, and the founder of  Career UpRising. Her company helps professionals change careers, launch a job search, and overcome age bias.

Resources in This Episode:

To access Lorraine’s free 3-step training on how to change careers at any age, visit her website at www.careeruprising.com/.

From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume.  TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 388:

What to Do When You’re Getting Interviews but No Offers, with Lorraine Rise

Airdate: March 1, 2023

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.

Get a free review of your resume today.

Go to macslist.org/topresume.

You meet with a hiring manager. You feel good about the conversation.

But a week later, the employer tells you somebody else got the job.

Lorraine Rise is here to talk about what to do when you’re getting interviews but no offers.

She’s a coach, a podcaster, and the founder of Career UpRising. Her company helps professionals change careers, launch a job search, and overcome age bias.

Lorraine joins us from Northern Virginia.

Well, let’s jump right into it, Lorraine. We’re talking about what to do when you’re getting interviews but not offers. What’s the number one reason you see candidates that leads employers not to offer a job to someone? Are job seekers making a mistake here?

Lorraine Rise:

Yeah, I think that it’s really important for candidates to approach a job interview with the right mindset. Mindset is key in everything in life. But very much in a job search and in an interview, and it’s important, I think, to recognize that when you’re not getting interviews, that’s a separate problem with a separate solution than when you are getting interviews but not getting offers.

So, when that’s the problem, something is going wrong there in that conversation. It could be in terms of how you are coming across. It could be how you are answering the questions. It could be something specific in your answers.

But the bottom line is the employer is not getting something from you that they are looking for. We’re missing the mark somehow. And sometimes that comes from your experience and your qualifications. Sometimes it comes from just how you present yourself and how you show up in that interview. Sometimes it’s just a matter of your confidence, as well.

So, I think it’s important that as a job seeker, you understand that things that an employer is looking for and that you recognize where you personally might be going wrong or might need to improve your interview performance. Like I said, it could be your confidence, it could be your job qualifications, or you could have the qualifications, but you’re not answering the questions in a way that clearly demonstrates that you have the skills to solve the problems that the employer needs solved in this position.

I think that’s the first place to start is kind of diagnosing; where are we going wrong in that interview process. There’s a missing link somewhere.

Mac Prichard:

What can you do before you walk into the interview room to get ready? Because you, obviously, you can do a post-mortem afterwards and think, well, what went wrong here? You’re not a mind reader. But what can the candidate control before they walk into the interview? What’s the number one step they can take to increase the likelihood that they’re gonna get an offer?

Lorraine Rise:

Of course. I think the important thing is, of course, to prepare, and most people will go into an interview process preparing. But I also don’t want you to over-prepare. There is such a thing as over-preparing for a job interview. Because we don’t want to come across as scripted in our responses. We want to be confident. We want to be authentic, and we want to be able to simply tell our story and show evidence of our skills with very specific examples.

So, one of the first things that I tell clients to do when you are preparing is to brainstorm, I would say, at least three to five really specific career stories that demonstrate some of your best skills and most relevant skills for that position.  So, I like to call these “career stories” or kind of just little nuggets that you can share in a storytelling format.

And there’s a lot of different formats out there. From my team and I, when we’re coaching clients, we use CAR: challenge, action, result. So, you share what is the challenge of that situation, what is the action that you took personally, and what was the result. And be very specific in the result because that’s what employers are looking for. They don’t want generalizations. They want specific examples.

So, I encourage clients to be a storyteller and prepare ahead of time several career stories that demonstrate major wins and successes. But also sometimes our failures and our lessons learned. I think it’s important to prepare those, as well.

But, in your preparation, it’s also important to know when to stop. When to prepare and when to say okay, I’m prepared. I’m gonna go in, and I’m gonna be conversational and simply tell stories from my career rather than scripted answers. That can often differentiate someone who’s very relaxed and very confident and somebody who goes in a little bit nervous and not truly performing their best.

Mac Prichard:

Most people will have many experiences they can draw on to tell their stories about their careers. How do you pick your top three, Lorraine?

What strategy do you recommend candidates follow who are getting ready for an interview to pick the three stories that are gonna matter most to the employers that they’re meeting with in that conversation?

Lorraine Rise:

That’s a great question. Because it is really important that any examples that you share are relevant to that job, so make sure you study the job description.

But also, perhaps, if you’ve done any networking or have any connections at that company, you might be able to get insights as to what matters most to that employer. So you need to make sure that you have done your research and you know this job, and you know this company as best you can before you go in,because that’s gonna enable you to pick the best stories.

But for most cases, I would say, you want to think like an employer. What do employers want to know? They want to know the bottom line results. So, for the job you’re interviewing for, what are the types of results that somebody in that position would be expected to bring?

For example, is this a sales position? Are you expected to bring in revenue? Or perhaps retain customers? You would want to share those examples.

If not, what is it that you are doing? Are you doing quality control? Are you managing people? There’s a lot of different ways that you can impact a business. So make sure you know exactly what those ways are and you have examples of those that would be relevant to that employer.

And again, I think it’s important to think about major projects and wins and successes, but sometimes, employers will also ask you about failures and times when things have gone wrong. So it’s important to have those stories and be able to share what you learned and how you grew in those opportunities. So think about the good and the bad when you think about career stories.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned earlier the dangers of over-preparation, perhaps coming across as scripted in your answers. How much time do you recommend, Lorraine, that someone prepare for a job interview? And what are signs that they might be over-prepared?

Lorraine Rise:

I think that it’s going to depend on what kind of interview we’re going into. So, if this is a first-round screening with HR or a recruiter, we’re not gonna spend a lot of time. We might spend maybe thirty minutes. But it really is very customized to, how confident are you going into this? Every person might need a little bit varying amounts of preparation.

Now, having said that, if we’re going into a second or third-round interview, and this is a panel interview, and you’re meeting with multiple people, you will likely prepare a little bit more than that. It might be one or two hours, and you might need to break that up into small chunks, you know, so you don’t get too tired, you know, prepping. You don’t want to get worn out.

But I would certainly think that it’s gonna be anywhere from maybe thirty minutes to even a couple of hours, depending on how much you know about the company going into it. And how confident you already are, and what type of interview it is, and how far into this process we are.

And I think in terms of signs, if you’re getting weary, just pay attention to how you feel. Are you starting to feel tired? Are you feeling robotic in your answers? Or are you still feeling good?

You want to walk into an interview feeling good, feeling confident, feeling like, you know, generally, what you want to say but that you don’t feel like you have to memorize a script. If you start to feel like you’re memorizing a script, we’ve gone too far. We just want the basic stories and talking points.

Mac Prichard:

Well, this is terrific, Lorraine. We’re gonna take a break. When we come back, stay with us. Lorraine Rise will continue to share her advice on what to do when you’re getting interviews but no offers.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Lorraine Rise.

She’s a coach, a podcaster, and the founder of Career UpRising. Her company helps professionals change careers, launch a job search, and overcome age bias.

She joins us from Northern Virginia.

Now, Lorraine, before the break, we were talking about what to do when you’re getting interviews but no offers. You, in our first segment, stressed the importance of preparation, and I was so glad you did that because, Lorraine, I still meet people who tell me they’re gonna wing it when they walk into an interview room. Is that a good strategy? And could that be a factor in why you’re not getting offers?

Lorraine Rise:

It is a factor for a lot of people. I very often hear the same thing, as well. For example, a lot of time, when I am doing an introductory call with a prospective client, and we bring up interview coaching, I hear a lot, oh, no, no, I don’t need that. I’m really good at interviews.

And that may be true. But it’s one of those things where everybody can benefit from practice, and everybody can benefit from preparation. And I completely agree that we often have this tendency to want to just wing it, and I want to urge people to resist that temptation. Because here’s one specific reason why- things sound different in our heads.

For example, we may think that we have all of these good answers and I know how to answer; tell me about yourself and this and that. But if you don’t practice it out loud, it’s a whole different ball game when it comes time to actually speak the words out loud in front of somebody in the moment.

That’s very different than just you by yourself in your head going, okay, this is what I’m gonna say. Always say it out loud at least once or twice to yourself because it’s very different to speak something out loud than it is in your head.

And so, it’s good to have that verbal practice, to hear your voice, hear your inflection, your tone. And even better if you could have somebody critique you or listen to you or, at least, record yourself a few times for timing purposes. But also just to be able to hear your voice because sometimes it’s different than what we think.

And as somebody who does what I do and what you do, we hear our voice on our shows and recordings, so I have that benefit. But if you don’t typically do that, you may be coming across in a way that’s different than what you think.

So verbally practicing things out loud is good for everybody, and yes. I would say don’t wing it. Have at least a little bit of preparation in there, for sure.

Mac Prichard:

The ear is a wonderful editor. Not only for helping you prepare for presentations or interviews but also for writing. Things that make sense when you’re reading them or seeing them or they’re inside your head. You might have a different perspective, to your point, when you say them out loud.

Another point you brought up in the first segment I want to revisit is, because I think it’s equally important, is mindset. You talked about the importance of mindset. Tell us more about the different mindset can make when you’re in that interview room and how paying attention to it can increase the likelihood that you get an offer after the conversation ends.

Lorraine Rise:

Of course, we have to remember that a lot of what an employer is evaluating is us as a person. Whether we like that or not. They’re not only looking at your qualifications. They are evaluating you. And thinking, can I work with this person? Does this person fit into the culture? Do they have a certain emotional intelligence? And communication skills?

Those soft skills are incredibly important, and employers are looking for those, and quite often, that is the differentiating factor between somebody who gets the job and somebody who doesn’t, if both are qualified. If another person just presents themselves better, communicates better, that person is likely gonna get the job over somebody else, even if you had the same qualifications.

So, going in with that mindset and understanding that they are evaluating you as a whole person and a whole candidate, not just what’s on your resume, is very, very important. So, I cannot really overstate the importance of emotional intelligence and being aware of that and knowing what that means, and projecting that in your interviews. And some of that is mindset and confidence.

And I think another thing, too, is just being able to own your strengths and your weaknesses. There is a real challenge that a lot of clients have in talking about themselves and feeling okay with that. I think we’re taught the opposite, that we shouldn’t brag. I hear that all of the time from clients. I’m not comfortable talking about myself. I feel like I’m bragging.

And that’s a mindset, really, because you don’t have to go in with that intention. You don’t have to go in with the intention of being egotistical and saying things that aren’t true. We’re not doing that. We’re simply going in and sharing the best of our career and our skills and presenting them in the best possible light. But truthful, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

So, cleaning out those cobwebs in your mind and that limiting belief that it’s not okay to shine and have strengths and have skills- that belief will hold you back. You really have to be able to be not cocky but confident. And there is a big difference between those two, and that can be the difference between the person who gets the offer and the person who doesn’t.

Mac Prichard:

When you’re helping your clients prepare for interviews, what are your best tips, Lorraine, that you share with them? Both to get their mindset in order and to improve their confidence and project that confidence. What have you seen work in the interview room?

Lorraine Rise:

I think it’s really important, even if you don’t necessarily work with a coach or somebody like myself, although that’s very helpful. Get help from somebody other than you. Practice a little bit with somebody else or record yourself and then have somebody else listen to it. Objective outside feedback is really important. It’s just good for your growth, for your self-improvement, to understand how you may come across to other people. Other people can bring about great insights.

And I remember, just very briefly, a time way back in my early career I interviewed for a promotion that I did not get. But one of the pieces of feedback that the interviewer gave me that I would never have known was how many times I said the word absolutely. We joked about it. She said it was about fifty times, and I had no idea that I had this habit of saying the same word over and over again. And I still remember it and share that story today. So, things like that are really important.

So, I think tip number one is get some outside feedback. Whether it’s a coach or a family member, or somebody else, that’s very important.

And then I think the second tip, which I said earlier, but I want to reinforce again, is, because it’s very important, you are a problem solver. You have to view yourself that way, and you have to understand that employers hire for positions because they have problems that need to be solved. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t open that job requisition.

You’re filling a need. Know what that need is and feel comfortable sharing examples of it. Put on that mindset or that hat of, I’m a problem solver. These are the problems that I solve, and I’m offering that up to this employer. That’s what’s gonna get you hired, no matter how old you are, if you can confidently and articulately demonstrate that you can solve that company’s problems, you stand a really good chance of getting the offer.

Mac Prichard:

What can a candidate do in the interview to draw employers out about their problems in a professional way that allows for a conversation that will let the candidate show how they would approach overcoming those challenges?

Lorraine Rise:

Well, I think it’s important to, even if they don’t necessarily ask you for an example, give an example in your answer. So, you can say, you know, if they ask you just about, tell me about your customer service or your sales experience. Say, let me answer your question by giving you an example, or telling you a quick story that should demonstrate what you’re looking for.

So I want you to tell that story, and in that story, I want you to specifically focus on what was the challenge, which is the problem. What is the action? And what is the result? And when I say action, I mean what action did you specifically take? What was your role?

So, if you follow that formula, you’re going to be demonstrating to them that you solved a problem, and you’re gonna give them a concrete example of how you did it. And storytelling is very memorable. In fact, research has proven over and over that we remember stories better than facts. So, I don’t want you to just list a bunch of facts. I want you to tell a story, and you’re gonna show your problem-solving ability that way.

But don’t hesitate to offer it even if they don’t ask for an example. I think sometimes you can still answer the question with an example, and that will go a long way.

Mac Prichard:

It’s been a terrific conversation, Lorraine. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Lorraine Rise:

Well, there’s, like you said, we work mid and late-career professionals at Career UpRising, and there’s a number of ways that you can connect with us, and one of them is a video that I made recently. It’s a free training called the Career Change Roadmap, and you can get that on the website at careeruprising.com. That’s one thing that I have out there that will walk you through three steps for how to start the process of changing careers at any age. If you’re a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start, we’ll walk you through those three steps. So, I think that’s a great way for people to engage, and that’s something new that we’ve got out there.

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. Well, thank you for sharing that resource with our listeners, and again that URL is careeruprising.com, and I know you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and as always, I hope they’ll mention they heard you on the show when they do send you that LinkedIn invitation.

Now, Lorraine, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about what to do when you’re getting interviews, but you’re not getting offers?

Lorraine Rise:

I think the most important thing if I had to think about all of the tips that we have shared today, I think the most important thing that I would pull out from that is to be specific in your answers. One good specific answer is worth a hundred generalizations. So, we never ever want to answer a question with, well, that’s something that I did all of the time. We always want to share an example.

So, be a storyteller. Be a problem solver. And own your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s important to own both and go in there confident. Go in there, authentic. And prepare to simply have a conversation with that employer, and I think you’ll be successful.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Larnell Vickers.

He’s a career coach, executive recruiter, and leadership consultant.

Larnell helps you make career moves that increase your income, impact, and influence.

It’s never easy to learn that an employer has picked another candidate.

And sometimes, getting this bad news can affect your job search and your career.

Join us next week when Larnell Vickers and I talk about how to bounce back from rejection.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.