Landing the interview for that dream job can be an exhilarating ride for anyone seeking a change in their career. The dizzy excitement of that chance of being so close can make anyone desperate to do well. However there are many cases in which those who really want to succeed have not, generally because of mistakes made before the interview has even finished.
It is common knowledge that an interviewee should give precise examples of previous work in relation to questions, maintain regular eye contact with their interviewer and arrive on time. However, there are other potential mistakes that you may not realise, which can be avoided.
“When a candidate comes in for an interview they are being assessed on everything, from posture to their industry knowledge. When we interview a candidate, we have to take into account how our clients will perceive this person. At this stage of the process we are able to advise and help as much as possible, especially in areas they were previously unaware of, to give the candidate every chance of producing a good interview.” – Jenny Pape, Director at Workfish Recruitment
So what are those mistakes and what can you do to avoid them?
The most important aspect of the interview is the preparation that the candidate undertakes. Applicants can make their life a lot easier by making sure that they are well prepared before they even leave for the interview. For instance, those who are dedicated in their search for a new job can often have several interviews lined up at any one time. If those who are in this situation get confused or mix up interview dates, it can demonstrate poor organisational skills and can obviously be detrimental to interview success.
Another issue with preparation is interviewees looking like they have not had enough of a good sleep the night before. This can often be the case if they are anxious or worried about the interview – which is natural – after all an interview is a stressful time. However if the person turns up with rings around their eyes or starts to yawn in front of the interviewer, it can be pretty damaging.
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2) Not impressing with your dressing:
It is amazing how many applicants really do not consider what they are wearing to an interview. There are those who really do turn up to an interview in just jeans and a t-shirt. This does not look professional to the interviewer and can seem like the interviewee has no real intention of pursuing the job. No matter how ‘cool’ or trendy the organisation is, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
It is not just dressing in the right clothes that can make the difference. Having the clothes freshly cleaned and professionally ironed is a huge benefit. Wearing a creased shirt or trousers shows poor organisation and a lack of personal care.
3) Arrival in the lobby:
How a candidate arrives in the lobby, or at the reception of the interviewing company, is just as important as how they introduce themselves to the interviewer. It is often forgotten that the receptionist is often asked what they noticed about the candidates. Turning up while using the mobile phone, chewing gum or wearing sunglasses – will be noticed, even if they are disposed off before the interviewer shows their presence.
Once the candidate has arrived in the lobby of the company – the best option will be to politely introduce themselves to the receptionist. It is best not to look at your phone but to instead sit and read either the notes on the company so they are fresh in your mind or any literature on the organisation that is present in the lobby.
It would be important to note at this time that being late is also frowned upon. However there are times when being late is not your fault. During these moments it is best to ring in advance to apologise, explain the reason succinctly without being negative.
4) Not doing the correct research:
Spend some time researching the company. Often one of the first questions asked in an interview is “what do you know about X?” By showing your knowledge of the company to the interviewer, you can demonstrate that you are organised and have done the research.
However candidates should also prepare relevant questions for the interviewers. Not having questions which impress the recruiter is particularly damaging and can demonstrate a lack of commitment or understanding for the job that has been applied for. Of course the interviewee shouldn’t field questions which the interviewer will struggle to answer or may be seen as a challenge to their authority. A good place to start is enquiring further into aspects of the job role and the future career progression that can be made. Do not ask about holiday or benefits though.
Building a relationship with the interviewer by asking about how they have achieved their career and what interests they have; can build commonality and is highly recommended. Building this commonality between the two of you can help you direct your questions in a more relevant manner and bring up subjects of interest. This will give you a better chance to be memorable to the employer and a higher chance of success in the process.
5) Introduction to the interviewer and entering the interview:
Your introduction to the interviewer is one of the most important moments of the interview. Many hiring managers do state that they make a decision on whether the candidate is suitable or not for the role by the way that they introduce themselves.
A mistake that I often made was sitting down in a chair before being offered the seat. A candidate should remember that they are in the interviewer’s territory and therefore need to remember their manners. Therefore standing by the chair and awaiting the offer is the polite thing to do.
6) Social media:
Social Media is becoming a big player in the recruitment process. 43% of hiring managers have stated that when they have researched candidates on social media they have found material which has caused them to reject them. The main reasons for the rejections include:
Inappropriate photos / content
Information about candidates drinking or using drugs
Negative talk about a previously employer
Poor communication skills
Discriminatory comments being posted
The discovery of lies about qualifications.
To avoid this, you must be willing to treat the social media platforms that you participate in just as professionally as you would treat your CV. Posting images of the latest party might not be favourably seen upon by the recruiter.
Although not occurring before the end of the interview, a great example of how Social Media has led to a candidate not being offered a job is the ‘Fatty Cisco’ incident in America. Connor Riley, immediately after returning from an interview posted a message on her Twitter account:
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
Unfortunately a member of staff at the company found the tweet and before long it became a well known incident and she lost out on the opportunity.
Starting off on the right foot for an interview is paramount. Help yourself by preparing thoroughly and ensuring that you have a smooth introduction to the interviewer. Connecting with them by showing a strong interest in the company and respecting all those that you meet on the day; will all help to achieve landing that dream job!
Author: Josh Hansen is a writer who covers a wide range of employment and digital (sometimes together) topics. Thanks go to Jenny Pape at Workfish for her advice and contributions to this piece.