I have personally interviewed thousands of candidates - for my clients and my own team - and have found there are quite a few interview blunders I see regularly!
Having awareness and making sure that you act in the most professional manner will go a long way to helping you sail through the interview process. Often it is the little things that make you fail an interview. So, let's discuss some top tips from a recruiters perspective.
Turn up late (or be too early!)
It’s just rude to be late for a planned interview and shows the interviewer straight away that you don’t respect their time. This will bring thoughts into their mind like, if you are late now will you be late completing tasks? will you be able to be punctual at work?. Many questions arise and personally, if anyone turns up late for an interview with me it’s a no straight away. On the other side being too early (15 minutes plus) could be quite inconvenient for the interviewer especially if they have a packed schedule.
Being too informal (or even being too formal) could cost you the role. If you are working with a recruiter, just ask them what they think would be appropriate. Check the companies’ socials to understand if they are dress up company or a dress down company. For example, if it’s a fashion industry interview, I would always say in this instance to get your fashion game on as most decision makers will appreciate it in this particular industry, as opposed to consultancy firms where your best bet is to be suited and booted! I have had candidates turn up too formal for interviews and the interviewer commented on it, but I would always say if in doubt…. Go smart!
Speak negatively about your employer
Absolutely never speak negatively about your employer regardless of how you feel about them. However, tempting it may be, it reflects far worse on you than it does on them. There will always be a diplomatic route to take around the subject, as regardless of how much truth there is in your words it will only sound like complaining and negativity to the interviewer. You want your interview to focus on the good not the bad.
Ramble on or talk too much
Ahh, it’s a tough one I know but think of it this way - The interviewer has a finite amount of time to sit and learn about your skills and experience. So, you need to bring it back to that. I have sat in interviews and walked away thinking 'did I even learn one thing about this person’s skills… or did we just talk about our love of dogs and travel?' You need to listen to the questions or bring in examples of your skills related to the subject at hand. If you are a talker, it is easy to run away with things, but check yourself and make sure you bring it back to the interview at hand.
Lie on your CV
It’s a biggy, a lot of people do it and eventually, you will get caught out. Think about this, when the employer is taking references and the dates do not match up, there is no way back from that. We have a lot of this happening as many of our clients get references or ask for payslips… yes really. This catches so many people out especially if they have lied about their packages or dates on their CV.
Rule of thumb… just tell the truth!
Answer your phone during an interview
Put it on silent prior to walking into the room, you and your beloved phone can be apart for an hour while you focus on the task at hand! This goes for the interviewer too…
Discuss money (unless asked)
Once upon a time… (not that long ago) I interviewed an intern who sat down and immediately asked ‘how much are you going to pay me?’. In my head I thought, well, nothing because you are going to leave this room and never come back! It is almost offensive to be that brash and I would say this is a discussion to be had only if you are asked by a HR professional, or you have gone through the process and you get an offer of employment. There may be other instances like working with a recruiter where you absolutely must say your package and expectations but during an interview with a decision maker, is not the time to bring it up. They may need time to think about it or they might not be the person who decides.
Attend the interview unprepared
Benjamin Franklin once said “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and that’s that. Try the products, go in the stores, research the socials, read the websites, read online articles, and look up the team on LinkedIn. Do what you have to do to understand the company and the culture, having hard facts to go in with to discuss. I was impressed once when a candidate had memorised the name of all my team and no one had ever done that before! I mean we are a small team, but still, it was different and memorable.
Forget to follow up
Ensure after any interview you have directly that you always write a quick note immediately to thank the interviewer for their time. It always ends the process nicely and will make sure the interviewer has your contact details should they need them either now or in the future. If working through a recruiter, make sure you call them to feedback on your interview experience as they will be handling the coordination and feedback from the client.