An interview is your opportunity to demonstrate your value and to prove you are the perfect candidate for the position. On paper, you may have the experience, education and skills suitable for the job but ultimately it will come down to the candidate who performs the best at the interview. Researching the position, company and preparing answers to questions is important but sometimes the mistake you make at interviews can hold you back.
Here are 10 things to avoid while interviewing:
1. Arriving late
First impressions are important and arriving late to your interview may show that you are unorganised and even uninterested in the role. Start your interview on the right foot by giving yourself plenty of time to get to the interview. If possible, do a practice run the day before to calculate the time it takes you to get to your interview destination. Ideally, arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the interview in order to acclimatise and settle into your new environment.
2. Dressing inappropriately
We often hear “it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed” but in today’s job market it is more important to dress appropriately to the company’s culture. If your interview is with a creative advertising agency, for example, smart casual is probably the best bet. However business attire would be more suitable for financial services. Do your research on the culture of the company and no matter what the industry it is important to look well dressed and put together.
3. Not having an elevator pitch
Your first response can often set the tone for the interview. If you haven’t prepared an answer to the all too common “tell me about yourself” question you will lose the interest of the interviewer. A poor answer could knock your confidence and affect your performance for the remainder of the interview. Prepare a concise answer that highlights your strengths and achievements, touching on work experience, academic achievements and interests/hobbies.
4. Researching the company but not yourself
When it comes to interview preparation researching the company is vital but far too often candidates do not consider their own experience, education and skills. Make sure you know your CV inside and out and be able to answer questions on any part of it. Think of examples from your past experiences that relate them to the competencies listed on the job spec. Demonstrating that your experience fits with the post is important.
5. Failing to listen
Listening is an underrated interviewing skill. Make sure you listen to the question being asked before you launch into an answer. Giving the wrong answer shows you’re not a great listener. Take a moment, consider the questions and do your best to keep to the point, giving clear and concise answers.
Lying always backfires. Lying during the hiring process can destroy your chances of ever being hired with that employer. If you lie in the interview about your degree, qualifications or experience your interviewer will probably probe into those in more detail. If you manage to survive the interview, you will be found out on the job. Why do you think there is a probationary period?
7. Poor body language
Nonverbal communication displayed through your body language is just as important as your responses to questions. Avoid leaning back, sloughing or displaying disinterest through your posture. Lean slightly forward to engage your interviewer and show an interest in what they are saying. Where possible, try mirroring the type of body language your interviewer is using, if appropriate.
8. Badmouthing past employers
Even if you have had a bad experience in your previous position, badmouthing past employers is unprofessional. It may show that you struggle with conflict and working well with others. You also don’t want the hiring manager to think that you might speak that way about them if you leave in the future. When asked why you left a previous position, avoid negative answers and talk about the opportunity to find a challenging position in a new organisation.
9. Giving away too much salary information
Be careful not to disclose your salary to employers too early in the selection process. No matter the salary range of the position you are interviewing for, your current earnings will still have an effect on the offer.
10. Not asking questions
Asking questions is highly recommended. It shows you are interested in the role, the company and that you want to learn more about how you can benefit from this opportunity. It is inevitable that the interviewer will ask if you have any question. Preparing a few questions will show the interviewer you are interested in the position.