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Interview Faux-Pas


by Nikki Kinsey | 22 April 2014

Clients engage me and my specialist team of recruitment consultants to source the very best talent on the market. Among a number of other responsibilities, our duties involve screening many candidates for our clients, which involves interviewin - lots and lots of interviewing.

On the other hand, part of my work as a recruiter is to help candidates prepare to succeed at interview.

Whilst the skills and experience of any job will vary and everyone will be required to demonstrate their relevant experience during interview, by the time you have reached that stage your technical ability should have been confirmed.

What the hiring manager really needs to gain at interview is confidence in you as a person...

I believe that you can greatly enhance your chances of interview success by fully understanding and appreciating what hiring managers are not looking for and, subsequently, avoiding these behaviors at all costs.

So to make what can be a very tense experience, more relaxed and successful, here is some best practice and advice about what not to do:

Bad manners

Mobile phone interruptions can be very embarrassing and off-putting. If this does happen, apologise immediately, and definitely do not look at the number before switching off. Better yet, turn your phone off completely before entering the building in which you attending your interview.

Arriving late - or too early. Hiring managers are busy people who schedule interviews around their work schedules; if you show up 30 minutes too early or late, it's likely that you're requiring them to stop what they're doing to accommodate you. If you are running late, be sure to call the individual and let them know - then the interview can be rescheduled if required.

Bringing food or drinks along to the interview. You may be hungry and worried about those embarrassing rumbles or feeling dehydrated, but it is not acceptable to bring your own food or drinks into the interview. Have a well balanced meal before you attend the interview and, if the interviewer offers you some water, do take it, just be sure to sip from it sparingly between questions.

Speaking negatively about a previous employer

Employers are looking for positive influences on their team, so if you have something negative to say about someone or a company, keep it to yourself or find a more tactful way to talk about why you left a particular job. If you have left on bad terms, it's important to remain professional at all times.

Being too familiar

It's important to be friendly and let your personality shine during an interview, but it's also highly inappropriate too be too familiar. Unless they initiate it, you could find that you've unintentionally turned that person off by revealing too much about yourself.

Avoid giving too much personal information - especially when it comes to marital status or age, as these factors should not be considered by employers before offering you a position.

Giving a poor reason for wanting the job

It is definitely not acceptable to say "I'm bored.”

Saying that you are ready for new challenges is a much better response. Developing on this, you could say that you are grateful to your employer or previous company because they helped you develop your experience to where it is today. Then say that you want to improve your professional growth and are ready to face new challenges. This will get a much better response.

Another option is to talk about your ambition, highlighting that you are looking for a job requiring your best skills or that you want a job that will allow your career to advance.

Letting nerves control you

Repeating phrases over and over again, for example, saying "Do you know what I mean?” at the end of each explanation, or nervous tapping/leg bouncing are examples of nervous behavior that can be very off-putting.

Preparing for your interview so you feel confident is the best way to help nerves, but also to recognise this behavior and stop it as soon as it happens.

Poor presentation

This is an obvious one as we all know first impressions count.

Consider what you are wearing - whether you know the interviewer, have worked at the company before or have had no prior interaction with them, inappropriate interview attire a huge area we see individuals falling down on. No low cut tops, flip-flops or sunglasses on your head please. It's also important not to forget the age of technology - if you happen to have an interview via Skype, no pyjamas...  

Additionally, you might feel nervous and want to have a quick cigarette before your interview, which is understandable, but please think again - when you arrive smelling like smoke or try to cover it up with too much perfume it is a real turnoff.

The handshake

Last but not least, the handshake - either weak or hand-crushing. The significance placed on confident and positive body language is often ignored and the first indication of this is your handshake. So what does a handshake say about you? In my opinion, it's everything.

During an interview, the hiring manager will use many strategies to decide if you are the right fit, and the handshake is the very first test. Employers make significant investment in their talent, so it's important to get this right.  My advice is rehearse, refine - and refine some more.  

So, when you prepare for your next interview, think hard about how you can instill confidence and ensure your success.

Think I've missed any key points or don't agree? Let me know in the comments below. Alternatively, if you are looking for a career move, contact me on 01332 542580 to discuss your professional future.