Interview mistakes candidates should avoid

7 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

Interviews can be scary, and often very stressful. As a result many candidates are not able to perform at their best. That is why it is so important to prepare yourself beforehand and think of any eventualities where you might slip up.

However, even with preparation many people still make simple errors which can cost them the job. Whether you are looking for your first entry-level role, returning to work after a period of absence, or highly experienced in your sector, chances are you are going to encounter some difficult interviews.

Here are the most common job interview mistakes we think candidates often make, and how you can ensure you do not make them in your next interview situation.

Dressing inappropriately

Dressing inappropriately can hugely impact your chances of securing a role. Do not treat your job interview as an excuse to play dress up. It is crucial that you dress appropriately for the role you are applying for. 

Not preparing enough

Candidates that do not prepare for interview very rarely get the job. Employers are looking for you to match your skillsets to their needs, and will also want to know that you have done some research on them in advance. Not doing this could land you in a very embarrassing situation, and will most probably result in your application being rejected.

Talking too much

The interviewer does not need to know your life story, so keep your answers to-the-point and focused. This is where preparation is key. Think about the questions they may ask you and prepare your answers to ensure you do not get side-tracked on the day. If you do feel like you are going off on a tangent, quickly round up your answer and await the next question.

Not talking enough

An interview needs to be a conversation, so not talking enough can also be a negative. Whether you are suffering from job search burnout or did not get a good night’s sleep, letting your exhaustion show is a big mistake. Companies want to hire candidates who are excited about the job they are interviewing for, so giving one-word answers and not engaging in conversations will not give off the best impression.

Arriving late

First impressions are very important and running late will get you off to a bad start before the interviewer has even met you. Running late not only suggests poor time management skills, but shows a lack of respect for the company, the position, and even your interviewer. You should therefore ensure you arrive on time. Our advice, manage your time and make sure you arrive at the interview location five to ten minutes early. That way, if something unforeseen comes up on your way over to your interview, you will have some time to spare.

Not concentrating enough

Looking bored or disengaged is one of the biggest mistakes candidates often make. It is important to remember that you are being assessed from the minute you walk into your interview location. Treat everyone you meet with respect, always smile and show positive body language throughout. This will show your interviewers you are genuinely interested in the role.

Using mobile devices

There is nothing more distracting than your phone going off half way through your interview, so it is advisable to leave it at home or at least turn it off during your interview. Looking at your phone during your interview is not only rude and disruptive, but it is a clear message to your potential employer that getting the job is not your top priority. We would also advise not looking at your phone at all whilst in the interview building. It could make you look unengaged and cost you securing the job. Pick up a magazine or chat to the receptionist. This will give off a much better impression than having your face buried in your phone.

Leaving your personality at the door

In this market, shortlists are filled with individuals who are undoubtedly qualified to perform the role but the differentiator is almost entirely around the personality profile and human connection capabilities. This means that either subconsciously or consciously, you're being assessed from the moment you enter the building. If you are unable to build rapport with the person who picks you up from the reception area, makes your coffee and interviews you, you're going to miss out. A sincere interest in the people you could be working with and the business and organisational culture is a necessity for any job interview.

Being too negative

Never bad-mouth your current/previous employer or co-workers. You may be surprised who your interviewer might know, so think about what you are going to say before talking negatively about past employers. You also do not want the interviewer to think that you might speak that way about his or her company if you leave on terms that are not the best. It is important you make the interviewer know that you can work well with others, without talking behind their back, and this is the perfect opportunity to showcase this attribute.

Not telling the truth

Telling the truth about your skills and experience in a job interview may mean losing a position to a better-qualified candidate, but the alternative will come back to haunt you. It is therefore important to keep it real and always tell the truth during your interview. Remember, your interviewers will have your CV, your references and will be able to look you up on social media. If you do lie, they will find out, they always do!

Using 'we' instead of 'I'

A common mistake we often see when getting feedback from clients is candidates referring to their successes as something that 'we did’ as opposed to 'I did'. This can leave the more astute interviewer with the impression that the candidate is potentially taking credit for a project/account that they only played a small part in helping to win as opposed to something that they were solely responsible for. The most important thing is to highlight your achievements and the role you played in successes honestly.

Asking the wrong questions…or none at all!

It is also very important to think about questions to ask your interviewer throughout or at the end of your interview. These should not be standard questions taken from the internet, but instead should be informed questions about the role and the organisation. A job interview not only enables the potential employer to assess your skills and suitability but it also enables the interviewee to assess if this company is in fact a good employer, compatible with your needs. Research typical questions to ask your interviewer, and ensure you tailor these to the role to really show that you have an interest in the company and have taken the time to research your questions.

What next?

You can get more tips on smashing your next interview in our handy candidate section or contact us directly here.