Interviews are a big deal and (for the less experienced) a mistakes minefield! To help you conquer your next interview, we’ve put together our top list of interview gaffes to avoid. Steer clear of these mistakes and you’ll be on the right path towards the role of your dreams!
Time after time
Being late is a huge turn-off for an interviewer. It’s natural to be nervous but avoid that eleventh-hour panic by leaving yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Better to arrive a few minutes early and impress, than arrive a few minutes late and risk being ruled out for a job you really want.
“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail”
This Benjamin Franklin quote is spot on – make sure you have plenty of ammo if you don’t want to risk sitting in awkward silence. Research the company you want to work for, know what the business does inside out, and pre-empt the questions you’ll be asked so you have answers in your head and don’t draw a blank.
Dressing inappropriately is a big no-no – you should never go too casual, nor should you turn up in an outfit that looks like you’re off for a night out on the town. Nobody’s saying you need to head out and purchase a Chanel suit or a Tom Ford three-piece – simply go for something that you’re comfortable in and play it safe with smart but practical office-wear.
Your body language speaks volumes, so even if you feel awkward, try to avoid showing it with tell-tale signs. Nerves can make people have a tendency to avoid eye contact, or fold their arms but this sort of negative body language can be perceived as disinterest so avoid it at all costs. Always shake your interviewer’s hand and be sure to make eye contact so you make that connection.
Leaving your mobile phone on in an interview situation is a big mistake but can happen easily if you leave home in a rush and don’t switch that ringer off. The interruption of the ringing alone is a massive no-no – don’t let this happen and whatever you do, don’t even think about leaving the interview room to answer it unless you want to kiss goodbye to that job.
Showcase your successes
Talking about your successes, but forgetting to take examples of them with you, is a rookie mistake. You’re not showing off, you’re simply backing up your claims. Bringing folder upon folder of information is a turn-off, but a few carefully selected examples can work well.
We’ve all had bad experiences in the past but don’t get into the detail. Your prospective employer doesn’t want to hear about your arguments with your last boss so don’t be tempted to draw on bad personal experiences. If the topic is unavoidable, consider your language carefully and talk about how you remedied tricky problems and/or acted with diplomacy to solve issues – show you focus on solutions rather than problems.
Be a pro
Don’t let the chat get too personal with your interviewer even if you know them on a personal level, or have an association with them through family or friends. Your employer knows you have a personal life but doesn’t need to hear how drunk you were last Saturday or what you had for dinner, so keep it professional at all times.
Go it alone
We all love a bit of moral support, but leaving a friend, a parent, or a pet outside in reception is unlikely to win you the job. You need to send the message that you can stand on your own two feet. If you must bring a friend don’t bring them into the premises, meet them afterwards somewhere nearby so you send the right message to your employer.
How much you are going to be paid in a job is, of course, a big consideration – but it’s not a good idea to ask about it outright at your first meeting. You want your employer to know you’re passionate about the role, not just those pound signs. If the panel raise the issue, try to avoid putting a figure on your dream salary in case you price yourself out of the running for the job – tell them your current salary and it will go without saying that you want to better it.