The most commonly made interview mistakes….


You’ve updated your CV, trawled through a million job ads, made a short list, applied for 74 of the most impressive roles you’ve seen advertised, sat back and waited for the job offers to come flooding in. Nothing.

You’ve made the decision to contact a skilled recruiter with vast knowledge of your industry and professional connections that would make Hugh Hefner blush and they have secured you an interview with your dream employer. So, how do I prepare for this all-important interview?

There are hundreds of articles on the internet that claim to have the secret to nailing that all-important first interview, here are my tips gained over the past 23 years in the market.

 1. Turning up late.

Okay.  So this is your chance. You’ve finally got an opportunity to eloquently display your value as an individual and potential employee to your desired employer. Do not arrive late! It may sound ridiculous but it happens far more times than you would think. Arrive a minimum of 5 minutes early. Even 10-15 minutes early is better than being 1 minute late.

2. Using unnatural or excessively technical language

At this juncture, I feel it is imperative to acknowledge that the disproportionate utilisation of intrinsically melodramatic discourse is often the downfall of the noblest of aspirants.

Use your own words. Avoid trying to get caught in the trap of trying to sound smarter than you actually are.  Be confident in your knowledge and speak from the heart.  You will find your experience and passion for your job is much easier to convey by simply using your own words.   There is nothing worse than someone using the wrong words when trying to look clever!

3. Waffling too much

Try to be concise with your answers. Nerves can get the better of any of us but one of the worst things you can do is talk too much. Take a moment to digest the question and give a relevant response using a clear example of your experience. It is often crudely called ‘verbal diarrhea’ for a reason, it is horrible and absolutely nobody wants it!

4. Being over confident or cocky

You do not know everything. Be humble. No-one likes a know-it-all.  There is nothing wrong with being confident in your abilities but you need to keep in mind that your interviewer/s have 2 burning questions they need to answer.

  1. * Do I think they are able to do the job?
  2. * Do I want to interact with this person every day of my professional career?

Of course you want to sound knowledgeable but you also have to be likeable.

5. Not being prepared

Do your homework! If you do not know anything about the company you are interviewing with you are wasting both yours and the interviewer’s time. The internet is an amazing thing and if you dig deep enough into Companies House, their website, external press interviews etc you can find out a lot about an organisation.  Before I go out to meet a new client I spend a couple of hours learning all I can about them, their market and their competition so I can talk from a position of knowledge.  Try to find the story of your employer and how the company came into existence.  Everybody loves a good story and if you can relate your own story in a factual and personable way you will go a long way towards convincing them your stories should entwine from here on in.

6. Bending the truth

Apparently, it is common practice to embellish your knowledge and achievements on your resume.  If you can’t recall your achievements or feel the need to get creative with your answers, you will inevitably get caught out.  Do not do it.  I can reference a few situations where candidates have secured roles, only to be found selling a mistruth on their CV and losing the offer.  It is not worth it.  Be honest at all times.

7. Criticising your previous employer

No-one likes negativity. Keep your conversations and outlook positive even if you’re previous work experience has scarred you beyond belief.  It pays to be honest but also pragmatic in your reasoning for moving on from your previous role.  If your former employer has a significant culture issue, financial problems or bad reputation chances are you’re your prospective employer already has some prior insight in to these issues and it will only reflect poorly on yourself if you feel the need to bad-mouth them.

8. Dress to impress

You don’t have to turn up to a job interview in a cocktail dress or 3-piece suit! Get to know the company and their dress code/policies before you choose your outfit.  You want to make a great impression at your first meeting, and you would be surprised at how many people fail at choosing the right outfit for the occasion. Do some research. Some companies have very high standards in corporate attire whilst other companies can be a lot more relaxed (and practical) in the fashion department.   

I once had a candidate turn up to see me for a job interview to work for me.  He was shown in by my office manager and was sat behind a table in a meeting room.  My Office Manager was laughing as she informed me my candidate was here, I asked her why and she said, ‘you’ll see’.  Anyhow, I walked in, he was smartly dressed in a nice suit, hair was tidy, he was clean-shaven… I wondered why the hilarity from my office manager….  Anyhow we actually had a good interview, he was a good candidate, and as I shook his hand to say goodbye I finally realised why my office manager was laughing.  His smart suit was complemented by a pair of flip flops on his feet…. Yes flip flops.  Turns out he couldn’t find his smart shoes in his rush to leave the house.  Lesson 1- get your outfit sorted the night before… please!

9. Selling yourself short

Be confident…  It is good to be humble but never sell yourself short. Your CV should be an accurate representation of your career, highlighting all of your personal and professional achievements. Be proud of those achievements and acknowledge any difficulties you had to overcome to make them happen.

10. Not being in the moment

It is good to be prepared but do not presuppose all of the questions you may be asked and certainly do not rehearse all of your answers. Relax. Be in the moment.  Listen carefully to each question and answer accordingly as rehearsed answers will always sound…. rehearsed.

Ultimately, there is no magic trick that will help you nail the all-important first interview but if you have a chance of doing so I would highly recommend the following

  • * Relax
  • * Be yourself.
  • * Be honest.
  • * Be confident in your own capability and aware of your potential weaknesses. 
  • * Don’t wear flip flops.

(I can’t stress that last point enough)





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