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Interview Blunders

Interviews can be a daunting experience and it’s easy to make mistakes without even realising it — and many of them are more common than you might think! Here are the most common job interview blunders, mistakes and errors that a candidate looking for employment can make.

1. Bad-mouthing previous employer

Certainly, one of the more common reasons for looking for a new job, is that individuals have a grievance or upset with their existing employer. Don’t make the mistake of badmouthing your boss or peers in an interview. Translating this professionally when explaining why you are looking for a new opportunity can be difficult, but it is an absolute must! Take the emotion out of why you are leaving. The last thing you want is to come across as someone with a bit of a chip on your shoulder. It’s sometimes a smaller world than you think and you don’t know who your interviewer might know, including your existing employer.

2. Waffling

Sometimes your nerves can get the better of you and you feel like you have to fill in the vacant space. There is nothing worse than interviewing someone who goes on and on and on and wanders away from the question, going off on a tangent. Simply answer the question! Keep your answers concise, ideally with evidence to back up your answer, to-the-point and focused. Every minute of your interview is precious. It is your chance to sell your skills and what you have to offer.

3. Coming across as desperate

In an interview, it’s important to come across passionately and wanting the role but be sure you don’t go overboard. There is a fine line between wanting the role because you are keen and genuinely interested in the opportunity, and sounding desperate. If you say you will do anything, it may appear that you are desperate and it may give them the idea that you’ll just take any job. You want to make the interviewer aware that you’re really keen on the job and the company for the long-term benefit for both parties.

4. Dressing inappropriately

In order to impress the company you’re interviewing with, you must dress appropriately. It’s vital to look professional and polished especially in business/commercial interviews. Be suited and booted for interviews. A number of years ago, I had final interviews with a candidate who was attending an interview for a Finance Director role in a B2B business. It was 100% the candidate’s role and he was meeting the Chairman along with other directors of the business. He wore a smart suit and shirt. The interview went very well but he didn’t get the role. Why? you may ask. He left his tie in this pocket. This unfortunately, was seen as too causal for such a senior position where he would have represent the company externally with stakeholders. So remember, your attire may vary depending on the type of company you are applying for, equally important is the position you are applying for too.

5. Arriving late

Arriving late to an interview gives a bad first impression before you even arrive for your interview. It not only suggests poor time management skills, but shows a lack of respect for the company, the position, and even your interviewer. Even worse is not apologising for the lateness. Budget your time so that you make it to the interview at least ten to fifteen minutes early. If you are held up in traffic, give a courtesy call to the interviewer and explain your situation and the company will appreciate this!

6. Using your phone during the interview

Nowadays, the phone seems to be like a person fifth limb! Interviewees (and interviewers) have answered their phone during an interview or looked over at the phone to read a text as its beeped. It is not only rude but both parties trail of thought gets disrupted. It also highlights that the interview is not your top priority. Before you get to your interview, put your phone on silence, don’t answer calls (and certainly don’t make calls!) during the interview. Put your phone in your bag before the interview to resist the temptation of checking it. If you accidentally forget to turn it off, apologise, switch the phone off and resist the temptation to check it, should you get a message or call.

7. Poor body language

It’s a well-known fact that communication in an interview comprises of 55% body language, 38% is the tone of your voice and 7% is attributable to the words that you use. Slouching in the chair, appearing bored, not making eye contact gives the impression that you are not interested in the role. The chances are, this is the first time you will meet with the interviewer, they will be judging you on everything you say but more importantly every move you make. Resist talking too much with your hands or tapping your foot and ensure you stay alert and conscience about your body language from the firm hand shake at the beginning to nodding you head in agreement and even leaning forward in the interview.

8. Lack of preparation

We talked at length about preparation, preparation, preparation in week 7. Not knowing enough about the role, company, yourself and examples to back up your answers have led to interviewees stumbling with the simplest of questions. Don’t let yourself be caught off guard, prepare for your interview by reviewing what questions to expect, and how to answer them.

9. No questions

Answering the questions posed by the interviewer is a must and also not preparing questions for the interviewer is also seen as a negative.  It may be perceived that you are not really interested, so prepare a list of questions around the job, career progression, company and culture. However, your first question shouldn’t be “How much does the role pay?” Instead, ask questions that show you are interested in the role and the future of the company.

10. Bringing a drink with you

Again, before you go into an interview, ditch the coffee or water bottle before you enter your interview.  This not only looks unprofessional to enter with a drink, but is also awkward when looking to shake hands with the interviewer and you are fumbling with the cup or bottle. It’s all about making a good impression. If you are asked if you would like a drink, it is probably best to say no. I always say by having a drink in front of you it creates the opportunity for distraction — fiddling with the cup, or missing a question while taking a sip. Others may argue that it calms the nerves but I would hate to think what impression you would leave if the unthinkable happened, like spilling the drink on the desk, on you, or even your interviewer!

In conclusion, take the time to prepare before your interview, use a bit of common-sense and don’t stress out too much about the above blunders. After all we are human and sometimes mistakes can happen, so laughing it off is often the best solution. But staying calm and collated is the key. Don’t rush your answers and keep your nerves under control. 

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