I had two candidates interview at the same place back-to-back. On paper, both of them were equal. Both had different backgrounds, but experientially. They were about the same. Here is the feedback the hiring manager wrote me:

Candidate #1:

Intelligent, articulate, sound sales acumen and realistic expectations on what an inside sales role would be like for him.  Was open about needing to get up to speed on some of the technology that would be necessary for him to be successful and asked very good questions about the company.  Came well prepared, took notes, good energy, and appears detail oriented which is an absolute must for working at Mentis.  Next step in our process would be an interview with Jason and another member of our outsourced sales management team and will need his availability for next week.

Candidate #2:

Seemed distant, poor body language, and lacked enthusiasm.  He also seemed to not have done much diligence on researching our company or preparing questions that would give him a more insight into the position or general responsibilities.  His previous production numbers also seemed askew from what our expectations for the role would be, which I know I’ve shared with you.  When asked about how he would go about prospecting into smaller clients than at his last two positions, he replied by defining a market segment that was not in line with the market segment I had just explicitly defined.  Also, he was dressed in an unpressed button down shirt and slacks–no tie, no jacket.  While I would not find this an automatic disqualifier, combined with the other mitigating factors, I do not believe he will be a good fit at our organization.

These two guys that were relatively equal, I couldn’t  believe it! I helped each one of them exactly the same way. One of them obviously worked hard at preparing for the interview. The other one obviously didn’t. It’s really sad and a shame. The second guy’s skills were really good, but he certainly didn’t communicate that at all.

The lessons are hard to miss.  Dress properly and sell yourself the right way.