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the job hunt: why you’re getting knocked back

Having trouble landing a job?

The job market for students is pretty ruthless, especially when you’re in a highly populated area. Everyone is in the same boat as you: low income, high textbook pricing, balancing social and academic calendars. So naturally, everyone is after the same kinds of jobs you’re going for: conveniently located, decent pay, hours that work around your uni schedule. If you’re finding the job search a bit tricky right now, it could come down to a few things – some of which, unfortunately, might be out of your control. But the good news is that some of these things you can improve on! Here are a few reasons why you’re getting knocked back at job interviews…



You appear nonchalant

Over-confidence can sometimes shoot you in the foot at job interviews. Leaning back in your chair, crossing your arms and acting too casual can come across as uninterested, lazy and rude. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t give a crap about the job, so a good place to start is to at least act like you’re grateful to be given the opportunity of an interview, even if it is for a minimum wage position.



Your resume is out of date

You may have made it to the interview-stage of the job hunt, but you need to be prepared for their questions, which will almost always include questions about your resume. Sure, you might have been on the Student Representative Council in Primary school, but those achievements don’t really translate to what an employer might be looking for. My suggestion? Get rid of anything that doesn’t directly contribute to your value in the job position – employers don’t want to know about that stuff, and if your resume is jam-packed with irrelevant details they will chuck it out.


You’re not dressed to impress

Iron your goddamn shirt. Sure, it might be the first time this year that you’ve used an iron, but being well groomed is crucial to job interview etiquette. Here are just a new no-brainers to help you out:

  • Iron your clothes
  • Tuck your shirt in
  • Tidy your hair
  • Wear deodorant
  • Don’t wear running shoes
  • Bring a bag with a copy of your CV inside

Ya’know? The simple stuff to help you avoid this look.




You didn’t prepare questions of your own

9 times out of 10 an employer will ask you the dreaded question: “So, do you have any questions for me?” This is the part of the interview where they are testing you. They want you to have questions ready to go – it shows you have an interest in the company, the job and its responsibilities. If you answer with “nope, I’m good,” then you’ve already disappointed them. At the very least, ask generic questions like:

  • What can you see being the biggest challenge for an employee in this role?
  • Is there room to advance within the company?
  • Is there anything on my resume that concerns you?


You don’t shake their hand

Big no-no. Always go in for the handshake. Even if you’re not a good hand-shaker and you find the whole idea a bit daunting, an employer will be impressed by your friendly and forward attitude. A friendly handshake at the beginning of the interview sets a positive tone for the rest of the conversation.


You avoid eye contact

An employer wants to know that you are able to relate well to others. If you’re not a big eye contact person, that’s fine, but don’t avoid it altogether. Look them in the eye when you shake their hand, and when you’re speaking to them make sure you don’t dart your eyes around the room. They want to get to know you, that’s why you’re there. Just relax and be friendly, then the eye contact will come naturally.


You don’t smile

Job interviews can be daunting, and none of us enjoy them all that much. Smiling might be super hard for you under pressure, or it will come naturally when you’re anxious. Smiling at certain times during the conversation will lighten the mood and the employer will follow your lead. Just relax and act as if you were speaking with your best friend. People like to mimic other people’s body language, so if you start things on a positive note the rest of the interview will fall into place. Try not to smile(/be creeped out) watching this…




Go forth, young grasshoppers.

About the Author


Amy is the Content & Social Media Specialist with Campus Living Villages. She lived at UNSW Village for 4 years, so she knows a thing or two about moving out of home and starting life on-campus!