The process of interviewing candidates has changed significantly in recent years. Where previously, you could have potentially predicted the types of questions you’d be asked and prepared by learning some great responses, this is no longer the case. Make these mistakes and it could cost you the job.
Most people would agree they get nervous before a job interview – in fact many would say that there is nothing more nerve racking than job interviews. Recruiters don’t generally go out of their way to make candidates feel uncomfortable; however creating a tough interview experience can challenge candidates to think and perform under pressure. Despite this, many job seekers make it worse by not properly preparing. Many of the following common interview mistakes can be avoided:
1. Not knowing much about the company: Being asked what you know about the company should be one of the easiest questions in an interview – if you’ve done your research. Always review the company website, LinkedIn, Facebook and other Social Media pages. Use or review the company’s products if appropriate. Do a ‘google’ search so you can review media that is not controlled by the company. This could highlight issues or situations the company is currently involved in. Try to also gain an understanding of the company culture and how that matches your own values – workplace culture is very important in terms of the interview and this is one area the interviewer may focus their attention on to ensure you provide a good fit for the company.
2. Not being confident with your own information: It’s amazing how many people don’t recall employment dates or what they did in previous roles. Review your resume and make sure you have a good recollection of your experience, the timeline of roles, skills you’ve developed and successes in each role. It isn’t acceptable to say “it was so long ago, I can’t really recall”. Put together a list of accomplishments in each role that you can quickly and confidently discuss. Don’t just focus on the roles that interest you or that you feel are the best fit. Be prepared to discuss any part of your background if pinpointed by the recruiter. Taking time to review your history and create a quick list will refresh your memory and help prepare you to discuss experiences and accomplishments that you may have otherwise forgotten in an interview situation.
3. Turning weaknesses into positives: If you’re asked about your weaknesses – resist the temptation to say “I’m a perfectionist”, “I work too hard” or something equally as clichéd. A better way to approach this question is to think seriously about a weak point or something you have previously struggled with and what you’re doing to improve it or enhance your skills in that area. Interviewers are not really trying to trip you up with this question – they just want to make sure you’re a good fit for the role.
4. Not asking questions: At some point during most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions. Having none can make you appear uninterested and unprepared. Before the interview, put together a list of relevant questions. It’s acceptable to take some notes in with you to refer to if you think you may forget. Ideas for your questions could include areas of the role you’d like to know more about, the current or previous person in the role and their career, the interviewer’s career, how long they’ve been with the company, what they like about working for the company, a current situation with the company or market, what the recruiter sees as the biggest challenge in the role etc.
5. Being negative and/or switching off: Make the effort to show you are positive and enthusiastic by remaining attentive and upbeat – don’t come across as bored or uninterested. 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 – this takes more effort and concentration and helps you to remain alert. Also remember that 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 as the recruiter may get the impression that you’d be difficult to work with.
Securing an interview these days can be tough, so make sure you fully prepare for it. The bottom line is that you don’t get a second chance to impress at an interview. Recruiters use the interview to test candidates’ thinking and performance under pressure because people who can think quickly in business are an asset. If you want to succeed in an interview, preparation is key – it will help you feel more confident and will show in your performance.
If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach with preparing for a job interview, to overcome your nerves, build confidence and increase your success rate, please see our Interview Coaching and Training service.