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  • Sandra Laws - Career Coach

Common Job Interview Mistakes You Need to Avoid

If there is one thing my recruitment experience has shown me is that preparation for an interview is crucial if you want to make a strong impression. I am going to share a few examples of the common mistakes that candidates have made during my experience as an interviewer on a recruitment pane

Not Understanding the Question

Interviews can be stressful and sometimes you have not listened to the question or do not understand the question the interviewer has asked you. There are occasions when candidates are eager to talk about all their achievements which do not relate to the actual interview question. Sometimes candidates may drift off the main topic of the question.

During an interview, there was an internal candidate who was a high performer and excellent worker. However, when she answered the questions, she did not articulate how she could perform key tasks. I knew that she was competent at these tasks, but she did not demonstrate this in her answers. This candidate subsequently received low scores on the questions and unfortunately did not receive a job offer.

Top Tips:

  • Listen carefully to questions and ask the interviewer to clarify if you do not fully understand the question.

  • Answer the question the interviewer has asked you, not what you think the interviewer will ask or you want them to ask.

  • You may need to let go of the example answers you had prepared for the interview if the interviewer has not asked you a question that relates to this example.

Questions about Salary & Company Benefits

The interview is not an appropriate place to ask questions about salary and company benefits.

Top Tip:

You should ask this question after receiving a job offer.

Unprepared for the Interview

Unprepared or nervous candidates often appear muddled, rambling, or hesitant when answering questions.

Top Tip:

When preparing for your interview, include relaxation activities in your preparation, such as yoga, meditation, exercise, or visualization. Arrange a practice interview session with a relative, friend or a coach.

Not Understanding Key Duties of Position

Candidates who do not have clue of what the position entails and have not read the job description.

Top Tip:

Read the job description carefully and highlight the key job responsibilities.

Using The Word “We” Instead of “I”

When answering questions about teamwork, the interviewer wants to know what you were personally responsible for or what contribution you made to the team effort.

Top Tip:

Use “I” statements to support your examples when discussing your contribution to teamwork.

Turing up Late

Candidates who do turn up late for an interview project a poor first impression to the interview panel. I recall an occasion when a candidate turned up late and explained she was attending another interview in the organization! This was poor planning on the candidate’s part.

Top Tip:

It is important to arrange a practice journey to the interview location so that you have an idea of the travel time. Google maps is an excellent source to find this information. It is vital to contact the organisation if there are delays in your journey to the interview location.

Speaking Negatively about Previous Employer or Colleagues

This is unprofessional and give the impression that you are the type of person who would speak negatively about other people in general.

If you wish to discuss a negative experience, reframe it in a positive light. For example, discuss what you learned from the experience or how you would approach this situation in the future.

Forgetting to Switch off Your Mobile Phone

This projects a negative impression of a candidate and is an unwelcome interruption for the interview panel.

Top Tip:

Switch off your mobile phone before you enter the building

I hope you found these tips useful. Drop me an email if you have any interview topics or questions that you would like me to cover in this blog or book a free consultation:

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“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” - Alexander Graham Bell

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