Interview Mistakes to Avoid

We wrote a 'face to face interview preparation guide for candidates' where we released our top tips for making a great impression. We now want to bring you a second article from our interview series on the mistakes to avoid during an interview. After all, the slipups you make could be the deciding factor to whether you get the job or not.

As a specialist Recruitment business we are experts in knowing what makes a candidate successful or not, so here are some of the mistakes we have seen candidates make over the years and why you cannot afford to make them.

1. Not planning ahead

Have you planned your route? Do you know how you are going to get to the interview? This is a mistake that far too many candidates make before the interview has even begun. Failing to plan how you are going to get to your interview could lead to disaster. Not knowing where you are going or how long your journey will take could result in you being late for your interview. This will cause stress and is likely to leave you feeling on edge throughout your interview.

Instead of leaving it until the day, why not test the route out beforehand? That way you will know exactly how long it will take you and how to get to the interview.

2. Arriving too early or too late

Following on from the point above – arriving late to your interview is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Even if you have planned ahead you need to leave plenty of time to get to the interview, making sure you arrive 5-10 minutes beforehand. If you arrive too early wait somewhere within close proximity to your interview. Arriving too early could catch your interviewers off guard and put them under pressure. Additionally, being late or too early puts you at risk of being perceived as having bad time management skills, something most employers avoid when hiring candidates.

3. Not doing your research

No matter how many years of experience you have, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not doing your research on the company. This will send alarm bells to the interviewer that you are not taking the interview seriously, have no real passion for the role and ultimately do not respect the interviewer’s time.

Would you hire someone that had no desire to impress? You need to show the interviewer how much you want the role, and how much you want to work for the company. Not to mention it will be embarrassing for you if you get asked a question like “what do you know about our company?” or “what interests you most about our business?” and can’t give a proper answer.

Before the interview scope the company and the interviewer out on LinkedIn, find out what they do, the clients they work with and what they stand for. Being able to show you have spent time doing your research and want to learn about their business is what will make you stand out from the other candidates.

4. Ignoring the interview dress code

If you want to impress in your interview you will need to dress in a smart and professional manner. Turning up in jeans and trainers is a big no. We always advise our candidates that it is better to overdress than underdress. An interview is all about making a good impression and dress code plays a big part in that. Dressing smartly will show your interviewer that you mean business and you have taken the interview seriously. It also shows that you care about your personal brand and are professional and respectful.

The same dress code applies for Skype interviews too, and you should always treat these like any normal face-to-face interview. No matter what the format of the interview is the dress code should remain smart and well presented at all times. If you would like to find out more about these types of interviews, read our 'Video Interview Preparation Guide For Candidates'.

5. Talking badly about a current/previous employer

Talking badly about any of your previous employers or even your current one is one of the most detrimental mistakes candidates can make. It won’t impress the interviewer and you will come across as extremely unprofessional – not a key trait a hiring manager will want in their business. Instead, highlight the challenges you had in your previous role and how you solved them without referring to any individuals. This is also a great time to discuss the type of company culture you like working in.

6. Failing to sell yourself

Your first interview could be your only opportunity to make a great impression – don’t waste it.

No one will remember the ‘mediocre’ candidates, so you really need to use every opportunity to sell yourself. What makes you the best candidate for the role? Sell your key skills and experience, elaborate on why you would be a great fit for the business and the value you can add.

If you want to stand out you will need to sell your passion and interest for the role you are interviewing for. Hiring managers want to hire people who are as passionate about their business as they are. Your passion might even be what gets you the job – so make sure you showcase it.

7. Not telling the truth about your experience

An interview may be about selling yourself as the best candidate but don’t catch yourself out by lying about your experience and jobs you have or haven’t had. The interviewer will be able to see what experience you’ve had from your CV and LinkedIn and will use references to find out more about you anyway.

Remember, you need to have the relevant skills and experience for a reason. So, lying about this will only result in you failing to get the job and ultimately ruining your reputation in the industry.

Be honest and sell the great experience you do have. Transferable skills and experience count, so if you can easily show examples of this, then do it, you will be more credible.

8. Not asking questions

In every interview you will be given the chance to ask questions, so don’t make the mistake of declining the opportunity to find out more about the business or the role.

Not making the effort to prepare questions will make the interview think you don’t have any interest in learning more about the business and the role. You should be using every chance you have to show the interviewer your passion.

Try to avoid questions around salary and holiday entitlement. Instead, ask a question around the team size, goals of the business and other clients they work with which will show initiative and interest.

9. Not closing the interview

It is surprising how many candidates fail to close their interviews well, especially as the last impression you make is equally as important as the first. Meaning you need to close the interview on a positive, professional and memorable note.

A good way to do this is by thanking the interviewer for their time and making sure they know you have enjoyed meeting them and seeing their business environment. You could say something like: “I’d be really interested in this role and would love the opportunity to work for you.”

10. Forgetting you are still in the interview until you leave the premises

Your interview hasn’t finished until you leave the premises. You never know who you might bump into on the way out or who might be watching out the window.

Don’t make the mistake of lighting a cigarette or getting out your phone as soon as you leave the interview. Remain professional until you leave and ensure you say thank you and goodbye to any staff at the exit

What next?

Now you have everything you need to know about what mistakes to avoid during your next interview, do you think you would make a great impression?

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