5 Common Interview Mistakes

10 Jun 2015

Most people, at one time or another have left a job interview thinking, ‘well, that could have gone better’ or ‘why didn’t I mention…’ Something just seems to happen in interviews that cause people to seize up, not portraying themselves as well as they could. Interviews are stressful, some people are better at coping with this than others. However, having such a small window to sell yourself for the position you want can bring out either the best, or worst of us. 

We’ve compiled the five mistakes we think most commonly occur within the walls of the interviewer’s office. 

 Saying too little or in many cases too much.

There is an art to getting across the right amount of information needed. Too little and you’re missing key details, too much and you look like you are unable to get your point across concisely. Either way you are creating a negative impression with the interviewer and damaging your chances. Practice and preparation are the key to avoiding this. Prepare answers to questions you would expect interviewers to ask, background, qualifications, previous experience etc. There will always be the ‘standard’ questions, so think of answers to these, plus think about some you might not expect to be asked. Try to think from their point of view and what they could want to know (Take a look at our article on 6 Questions to try asking Interviewees for some inspiration). Then practice, think of it like a presentation on your life, run through your answers a few times to ensure you cover all of the bases you need to.  

Not doing the research.

Learn as much as possible about your potential new employer. Not researching will put you at a disadvantage before you walk through the door, fully researching will help you to stand out from other potential candidates. Don’t just have a browse through their website and hope you will not have to go into too much detail, this is an opportunity to show you have done your homework. Research the obvious; their market position, their competitors, their business priorities etc. Then dig a little deeper, try to understand their company culture, pay structure, internal competitiveness. Use the industry news, the internet and if possible your own network. Ask around, see what friends in the industry know/say about the company. 

Not listening to the whole question.

Granted you have a lot to think about, speaking too much, too little, getting across all the information you intend. But, make sure you pay attention and read the cues coming from the interviewer. Try not to start thinking of your response whilst the question is still being asked. It sounds obvious, but if you have prepared answers and you think one is ideal for the question, you could be already be recalling how to respond. Potentially, you could miss additional aspects or key information, which could allow you to further impress with your own knowledge and research on the company. 

Not asking relevant questions.

Interviews go both ways. At the end interviewers will want insightful questions from candidates eager to lean more about the company. This combines well with the research aspect, use what you have learnt about he company and prepare relevant questions beforehand, ask these at the end of the interview. Sometimes questions you have prepared could be answered during the interview, so ensure you have prepare a few. Along with this, try to remember or even jot down anything of note which comes up during the interview, ask about this at the end. This will show interviewers you are attentive and keen to delve deeper into conversation, rather than looking for the quickest possible exit once they have finished asking you the questions. 

Not Being yourself.

It sounds very cliché, but often the need to impress can take over. Just remember, if you have reached the interview point then the company is interested in you, they have looked through your C.V. and seen potential. Do not attempt to overly embellish or exaggerate yourself and your capabilities in the interview, they will most likely have done a little research and have some notes on you, catching out any huge lies. Furthermore, you could see an aspect of the role as particularly important, over exaggerating your capabilities and suitability for it. However, the company may not regard this with equal importance, in exaggerating this you fail emphasis another capability you possess which the company would value more. You cannot assume the company values each aspect of the role the same as you do, simply being yourself removes worrying about this issue, giving a more accurate overall portrayal of yourself. 

 

In the end our best advice is prepare, prepare, prepare. In doing so it will give more confidence in the interview. We cannot guarantee you will get the job, but avoiding these mistakes and putting in the time to prepare properly will put you in a great position.