Over the last ten years of Beringer Tame, we’ve seen our fair share of interview clangers. It never ceases to amaze me how reasonable, intelligent people go off on the weirdest tangents when sitting in front of an interviewer.
It is easy to overthink an interview: what makes me look desirable, what makes me look smart, how can I make sure they absolutely definitely hire me? However, if you try too hard you can be inadvertently making some big mistakes. To help you avoid this, here are some of the worst things we’ve seen candidates do during interviews.
1. Hand forcers:
If you already have a job offer on the table it can be tempting to dangle it in front of a prospective employer. This can go one of two ways – suddenly you could be more desirable as they could lose you as an option. It can force them to make a decision faster. OR they can feel backed into a corner and you can come across as pushy.
If you are interviewing through a recruitment consultant, use them. Your consultant can be pushy on your behalf and behind the scenes, they will be informing the employer that they need to run a swift process if they like you.
TOP TIP: If you do have another job offer, but it isn’t your preferred option, it’s ok to make them wait. They’ve been waiting to fill the role for a good 6 weeks or more, they can wait a few more days. It is reasonable for you to say that you’re committed to another interview and you want to see it through.
2. Negative nillys:
Sometimes it’s not easy to explain why you’re leaving a role: your manager might be a nightmare, the company might have broken promises to you or you might fundamentally disagree with some decisions that have been made. Be tactful with the truth and skirt around the main pain points. Be sure to highlight the good things about the company, focus on your contributions and what have you learned – they’re interviewing you after all.
INTERVIEW TIP: If you have had a negative experience at a previous company pre-prepare your answers to “why you are looking for a new job?”
3. Research ruiners:
What’s the first rule of interview club? No, it’s ok to talk about it. The first rule is to research the company. It’s boring, and it’s on every single article you’ll ever read about interviews and it’s so obvious. But people still aren’t doing it! If you don’t know much about the employer or their values then it’s difficult for you to demonstrate how your experience could benefit you. You’ll also have that horrible squirm when they ask you something about the company.
Not only are you at a disadvantage, but also it will be patently obvious to your interviewer. This says all manner of things; you cut corners, you aren’t interested in creating foundations, you think you’re too good to prep for an interview, and most damaging of all, you’re not interested in them as a company!
INTERVIEW TIP: Always check out the careers page on a company’s website. This will give you an insight into the values they expect from their employees – a good place to start don’t you think?
4. Salary snakes:
Changing jobs can be an excellent opportunity to give your salary a healthy bump. However, be smart. If you are working through a recruitment consultant and you’ve told them your salary details – don’t then go and lie about them during an interview! Your recruiter will have told the employer your salary expectations when putting you forward for the role.
When it comes to salary, explain your situation honestly. If you feel underpaid at the moment, prove to them in your interview why you feel underpaid – be prepared with facts and figures and blow them away. No one is going to give you a pay rise if you can’t demonstrate why they should.
TOP TIP: Know your reasons for looking for a new job before interviewing. It is very easy to be blinded by money but the real reason you are looking for a new role could be because you hate the commute. What if this role halves the time you’re commuting? Think sensibly about money – do you need a big pay rise? Probably not. You should always focus on the job – will it make you happy? In reality, what price can you put on that?
People make plenty of other mistakes. Acting like you own the place because you think it looks confident; not answering questions properly because you want to push your own experience; exaggerating certain elements of your experience. All are, needless to say, big no-nos. Preparation is key to interview success, whether it’s research on the company, knowing your numbers, or taking charge of your nerves. Just please, don’t try to be too clever.