Securing an interview these days can be tough. With increasing numbers of candidates applying for each role, it’s a very competitive market. Recruiters often use the interview to test candidates’ thinking and performance under pressure because people who can think quickly in business are an asset. The bottom line – if you want to succeed in an interview, you need to prepare.
Here are 10 top mistakes to avoid:
1. Arriving late or flustered – research where you’re going and how you’re getting there. If you’re catching public transport, catch the earlier service. If you’re driving, research parking options and, again give yourself some extra time just in case you encounter last minute problems. There is nothing worse than arriving flustered and red faced after running to make it on time or, worse still, arriving late. It really does give a bad first impression.
2. Dressing inappropriately – dress neatly and make sure you are well groomed – no thongs, shorts, t-shirts or revealing outfits. The actual attire may vary depending on the role, so it could be a suit and tie or business casual. Research the company and work out what would be expected.
3. Talking too much – there’s not much worse than a candidate who rambles without really saying anything. Ensure your answers are succinct and to the point. Research common interview questions and practice appropriate answers before hand, so you have an idea of what you might say in response to different questions.
4. Switching off – make sure you remain attentive. Concentrate on the interviewer and the questions they are asking. You only get one chance to impress, so make it count. If you find yourself becoming distracted, make a conscious effort to re-engage with the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, lean forward in your chair and sit up straight – don’t slouch or lean back. This will take more effort and concentration and help you to remain alert.
5. Not knowing your value – in an interview situation, you have to be prepared to talk about yourself. The whole process is about YOU and YOUR suitability for the role. Spend some time brainstorming strengths, weaknesses, recent projects, and accomplishments so when you are asked about yourself, you have something to say. Focus on achievements that you’ve made for your current or past employers and demonstrate how you’ve handled different types of scenarios you’ve encountered.
6. Not preparing for tough questions – you will more than likely get asked some tough questions so it’s a good idea to do some research, then prepare and practice appropriate responses. Questions usually focus on how you’ve handled various scenarios in the past and require clear thinking and succinct responses. There will often be multiple components to the question so try to address each area. Usually in these types of questions, there are no right or wrong answers – they’re designed to give the recruiter an idea of how you can think on your feet, and also a deeper understanding of the value you may bring to the organisation.
7. Not asking questions – this can make you appear uninterested. Research the company and role and put together a list of relevant questions. It’s acceptable to take some notes into the interview with you to refer to if you think you may forget. Ask questions about the role and the company and it will help you stand out as a highly interested candidate.
8. Not researching the company – there is no excuse not to know some facts about the company you are interviewing with. Research the company prior to the interview so when the recruiter asks what you know about the company you can appear interested and informed.
9. Being negative/low on energy – no matter how much you disliked your last job, boss or colleagues, this is not the time or place to discuss it. You should never criticise or undermine a past supervisor or company. The recruiter may get the impression that you’d be difficult to work with. Don’t come across as bored and uninterested – make the effort to show your positive and enthusiastic approach.
10. Asking about salary, hours, leave, and entitlements etc. too early – this should wait until at least the end of the interview or even until the recruiter raises it. This could also be raised during the next stage of the interview process.
Remember – you don’t get a second chance to impress at an interview. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your past that you may wish to put behind you! Preparation prior to an interview will help you feel more confident and will show in your performance.
If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach to help you prepare for job interviews, to overcome your nerves, build confidence and increase your success rate, please see our Interview Training service.