Common mistakes candidates make during an interview


You’ve been offered an interview for a great job, a job that you took a day to apply for, carefully matching your skills to the job requirements and you’re excited to get a call from their HR Department inviting you for interview.

Problem: It’s your brother’s 40th birthday lunch that day – you’ve arranged it, invited family and friends and you’re hosting.
Poor response: “Oh….” *pause* (while you consider)
Correct response: “Many thanks indeed, I look forward to meeting you. I do have a family commitment on this day but I want to offer as much flexibility as possible. Would it be possible to arrange the interview early morning or late afternoon?”

To note: you’re a highly professional person, so advice here isn’t needed on a hypothetical family occasion.  You can sort that out standing on your head; what you can’t do is retract a first impression.  If you’re applying for jobs, think ahead, and don’t be inflexible when you are offered an interview.

Next – The Interview

Have you ever turned up to a meeting where you have left feeling it was a waste of time?  This could be how a panel of interviewers feels if they ask you a basic question about their company, and you haven’t done your homework.  It’s all very well having stock post-interview questions you’ve pulled from a How To Do Great Interviews book, but if you appear fuzzy on the basics, you run the risk of looking foolish, or worse still – making them feel foolish for inviting you.  Your CV shows you can walk-the-walk; here you have to prove you can talk-the-talk.

We all have had Bad Managers and Bad Work Experiences in the past, but the last thing a potential employer wants to hear is how awful your former boss was at their job or how you had to instigate a grievance procedure against a colleague.  Firstly, it’s in poor taste to bad mouth, and particularly problematic to do this while displaying your strengths and qualities.  It’s the kind of thing that really sticks in other people’s minds – so don’t put it there.  Your bad experiences are no less real just because you don’t air them at your interview.  This doesn’t make you a liar – it means you are moving on to new things in a positive light – embrace this, don’t dwell.

Waffling is the scourge of linguistics – it can affect your performance in a spiralling manner, to which some never quite recover.  If you find yourself going into a waffle, then stop – breath, perhaps ask the panel member to repeat the question, and under no circumstances do you continue to waffle. If you do, you may: 1] Misinterpret questions and answer something else; 2] Find yourself unable to listen properly; 3] Laugh, then apologise, then continue red faced; and, 5] Not show your best side.

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