02nd Jan 2021

10 top job interview mistakes and how to address them


10 top job interview mistakes and how to address them in future job interviews

1. Not Being Prepared

One of the biggest mistakes you can make for an interview is failing to prepare; which in some instances can take days of careful preparation. It’s the part of the interview that you have control of so start your preparation early by thoroughly researching the company. Also, check what you need to prepare if anything for the interview, such as will you need to bring your certificates or examples of your work. A key requirement for some interviews is the delivery of a PowerPoint Presentation; so ensure you study the brief and pay close attention to your timings. You may want to run through this with someone else so that you can have a practice run. 

Review your submitted application and CV again and compare these against the person specification/job description as chances are they will be framing their questions around these. You might also want to plan ahead and consider doing a trial run of your route. This will also add to the feeling of being in control as you will know exactly where you will park or get off on the bus or train. Allow sufficient time and check ahead for any traffic delays and cancellations on the route, which could hold you up, we’ve all been there, and it does happen! Aim to arrive 10 minutes early; however, arriving too early can equally create the wrong impression, as being late can. Another key area is to ensure you dress appropriately for the interview, a suit for an interview within a corporate environment would be completely acceptable; however would look out of place for an interview as a lifeguard. Do your research to give yourself the best chance! 

 

2. Criticising a Previous Employer/Job

Often a tricky question to answer is why you left your previous job, but as much as honesty is always the best policy; this is an example where that might not always be the case. Avoid being critical of a previous job; it will sadly only reflect upon you, and not in a good way. Ensure you answer the question, but focus on wanting a new challenge, career advancement or bigger team/company which are all perfectly acceptable reasons.

 

3. Not answering the question

It can be easy to lose focus, especially if nerves are getting the best for you. Remember to ensure you listen fully to the question and pause to think about your answer. A professional interviewer should make you feel comfortable and at ease, even if you are anxious; which is perfectly normal. Don’t be afraid to get the interviewer to repeat the question to ensure you heard it; especially if it’s double-barrelled or competency-based. You can also get them to revisit the question if you are really struggling for an answer. It’s also important that when asked, that you provide the examples that they are looking for. Competency-based questions will ask for a time when you have demonstrated a particular skill. The important part of the answer is around the Results; or also known as the acronym STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Actions and Results. Ensure you prepare a few examples around these. You should also prepare answers for the following standard interview questions such as why do you want the job, why do you want to work for us, tell me about yourself, what are your skills, experience and what do you know about us.

 

4. Not asking questions at the end

At the end of the interview, the interviewer should always ask if you have any questions, which surprisingly, the most common answer is no. This is a perfect opportunity to really highlight your interest in the role and suitability as a candidate. You should ask questions related to the job, company and industry. Examples could include, what the induction might look like, training, how your performance will be measured or if you felt confident enough- why the role had become available.  Now is the perfect opportunity to ask anything that might be a deciding factor for you if they offered the job. As much as the interview is for the company to find the right candidate it should be a two-way process. Be careful to stay away from questions around pay and terms and conditions as you should have been aware of these from your research and the job advert when you applied. If not these would be best left discussed until you are offered the post, unless of course, they ask about salary expectations in the interview.

 

5. Body Language

Body language is a non-verbal form of communication and can be an integral indicator of how someone is feeling and in some cases an even bigger indicator in an interview. You will most likely shake hands with the interviewer, so ensure this is a firm handshake. Ensure your posture is strong at all times, keep your shoulders back and your chin lifted so that it feels comfortable for you. You may want to visit the Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy on Power Posing; that focuses on How Body Language May Shape How You Are- a very interesting and powerful video that can certainly be applied to interviews! Throughout the interview refrain from fidgeting or being restless and try to keep your hands in a grasp on your lap. Eye contact is also very important; however, avoid staring, but try to maintain natural eye contact as you would in a normal conversation.

 

6. Confident but Not Arrogant

It’s important to be confident in your skills and abilities which will help you highlight your skills and personality at the interview. However, ensuring you get the balance right is so important as you don’t want to appear arrogant. It’s important to list your accomplishments and things that you are proud about, but be careful to not appear that you are bragging. If you are concerned how you may be perceived, you might also want to consider practising in front of a mirror or recording yourself to see how you present yourself. Don’t assume you know all the answers and remain friendly and open; which are all qualities that are very attractive to new employers.

 

7. Missing Opportunities to Prove Yourself

It can be extremely difficult to know what the questions during the interview will be; you can get a pretty good idea by reviewing the person specification and the essential and desirable criteria. You can be sure that they will ask you a mixture of standard interview questions along with some competency-based questions. During the interview, actively try to steer the conversation which will help you to provide examples around your successes and highlights. Many interviewers will ask at the end of the interview if there is anything else you would like to add; this is the perfect opportunity to summarise anything left out or anything else that you would really like to highlight.

 

8. Social Media Fail

Social media is now an integral part of the recruitment process that many companies will use to verify and check prospective candidates. Check that your social media pages are a reflection of your professional self and that your online accounts are up to date, including profile pictures.

 

9. Your Phone Rings During the Interview

Don’t let all that hard work go to waste by leaving a phone call to chance. It would be the most awkward situation and one to be avoided at all costs. To ensure this does not happen, turn off your phone prior to entering the interview.

 

10. Obtaining Feedback

So you attended the interview, and fingers crossed it was the outcome you were hoping for. If it wasn’t, try to take the positives from the experience, and remember you have a lot to offer! Make sure you get feedback about your performance, and take it on board! Remember you clearly have what recruiters are looking for as you secured an interview, and that’s half the battle.

And on a final note, it can be easy to let nerves or anxieties get the better of you, but try to not let it. Nerves are perfectly natural, but developing strategies to ensure you can cope with these will prove very beneficial, such as taking your time, adopting breathing strategies or relaxation techniques. Some people are more prone to nerves than others, and some people are better at coping with these feelings. Ensuring thorough preparation and interview practice will certainly help to calm these nerves. It’s also worth remembering that the interviewers want you do to well and they have chosen to meet you out of hundreds of other applications so they already like what they see from your application!

Find more about how to sell yourself at the interview on our career advice page.