How you perform in job interviews is arguably the most important factor in determining whether or not you secure the job you want. In our experience, there are five key mistakes commonly made in job interviews and if you’re able to avoid these, you could well be on your way to success.
1. Being unprepared
While it seems like a basic step to undertake when looking for jobs, we still see a number of candidates who aren’t prepared before an interview. To be prepared you need to be able to speak confidently and intelligently about ;
- The organisation you’re applying for. This includes what they do, their history, financial position, mission, products/services, the market they operate in and their competitors. The new Robert Walters whitepaper on the interview process showed that most candidate research a company through a combination of the organisations website, news articles, word of mouth and social media. A quick online search and some website browsing should give you a good foundation to build on.
- Your own CV. Candidates can be guilty of not knowing their CV in detail and being ill-equipped to answer questions on the information they have supplied. Don’t assume that just because the information is in your CV, interviewers won’t ask questions about your background. Review your CV and make sure it’s up to date before your interview. Do you know your employment months and years? Can you explain any movement on your resume? Are you able to comment on your personal achievements in each position?
- How your experience and qualifications relate to the role. Some candidates have the most impressive CVs but can’t articulate how that will translate to the role. Practice how you will respond to any potential questions on why you would be good for the organisation, and provide specific examples.
2. Speaking negatively about previous employers or roles
We’ve seen many candidates ruin their job prospects by making derogatory remarks about their previous employers and experiences. You should never talk negatively about a previous (or current) company, manager or role. Talk about the positive aspects of your employment history and focus on these instead. No matter how much of a nightmare your last situation was, every job is a learning experience and focus on the good things you took away from it.
3. Giving generic explanations on why they like the role/company they are applying for
When asked why they are applying for the role, many candidates give very generic and unconvincing answers. This tends to come across as though they are looking for any role as opposed to that particular job, which is a turn-off to employers. This can be a little tricky if you have gone through a number of interviews and it’s become a sort of “routine”.
Be enthusiastic and talk specifically about what aspects of the role and organisation appeal to you, such as the organisation’s reputation, company culture, or the key responsibilities of the role. You should be genuinely interested in the role- if you aren’t you may need to re think your application. Ask questions, get involved and let your personality shine through.
4. Being too familiar with the interviewer
We see that many fall into the trap of being too familiar with their interviewer. While it’s important for you to be charismatic and demonstrate your interpersonal skills, you must always conduct yourself with professionalism.
Although interviewers often try to create a comfortable setting to ease the job seeker’s nerves, business decorum shouldn’t disappear. Avoid offering personal details that can be controversial or have no relevance to the position, such as political and religious beliefs or stories about a recent break-up is a no go zone.
5. Not putting your best foot forward
Be the most presentable you can be. Turning up on time is always the first box the interviewer ticks, so always give yourself extra travel time than usual and get to know the best route to the company. Dress suitably to match the culture of the company to ensure you look like you fit the part, this may mean removing piercings, wearing minimal jewellery, applying less aftershave and wearing a formal suit.
It is also important to remember the small things. We have received many comments from clients about candidates that didn’t bring a copy of their resume, the mobile phone was ringing in the interview or the candidate was chewing gum which did not leave a good impression.
Getting your body language right is an important part of winning an interview. While it’s always important to act yourself, there are some things you should always do, including maintaining eye contact, smiling and looking interested. Regardless of how nervous you are, try to avoid mumbling and fiddling.
You want your body language to project confidence, enthusiasm and belief in your own skills and experience.
Always remember your resume attracted the employer to contact you. The organisation thinks you might be the person they need, and you should believe that too. Be calm, confident, and if you end up unsuccessful for one job, just remember it was great practice for the next interview you go on which may result in your next position.