Interview mistakes

The interview is when you can let your personality and expertise shine, but don't forget that it can be a nerve-wracking experience, and sometimes with nerves comes blunders. Try to avoid these common interview mistakes:
  • Not knowing the role, the organisation or the interviewer - Your relevant skills and ability to do the job will seem a lot less impressive if you haven't done your research on the role and the company. An absolute faux pas is not knowing your interviewer's name and job title.
  • Arriving too early or too late - It's good to be about ten minutes early for your interview, but by showing up half an hour before, the interviewer will wonder if you're expecting them to drop their schedule for you. Go and have a coffee somewhere nearby and go over your notes. Also, there's no excuse for turning up late without phoning ahead to explain why.
  • Inappropriate dress code - Even if the company you're interviewing for don't have a smart dress code, it's advisable to wear a suit. Err on the side of being too formal, you don't want to look like you're off to the beach while your interviewer is in a suit. If you genuinely know that the employees at the company dress down every day, you could opt for a more smart-casual look but you still want to make a good impression.
  • Playing with objects at the interview table - You should be concentrating on listening and answering questions, not checking the time on your mobile or rooting around in your bag for gum.
  • Having closed body language - (Where possible) Maintain good eye contact, sit straight in your chair, show positivity and a give a firm handshake, you'd be surprised how these small gestures can convey an instant good impression.
  • Not considering your answers - Answer questions with clear, thought out replies, don't ramble on and on with irrelevant answers, it's okay to take some time to consider your response.
  • Bad-mouthing current employers - Complaining about your employer will immediately make the interviewer wary of your people skills and loyalty.
  • Not having your own questions to ask - You will come across as uninterested if you don't enquire into more detail about the role or company. The employer will be expecting you to ask questions so think about them before the interview.
  • Elaborating or exaggerating on your CV - If the hiring manager asks you to explain something on your CV and it's not exactly true, they will see through you straight away.
  • Trying to make the interview too personal - Don't make yourself sound desperate and don't talk about your personal life in detail. Interviewers don't need to know and it won't improve the chances of you being hired.
  • Not having spare CVs on you - If you're not sure how many people you'll be meeting, bring along a couple of spare CV. It shows you've considered and prepared for an interview situation.
  • Sitting down before the interviewer - Wait until you've been invited to sit down, don't just make yourself at home.
  • Raising the issue of salary - Unless the interviewer brings up money, avoid the issue, and don't enquire about holiday arrangements, you haven't even started yet!
  • Flirting with the interviewer - It's completely inappropriate and will make you seem arrogant and overconfident.
  • Using foul language - You should never swear or curse in an interview. There's normally a formal tone to interviews, so be on your best behaviour.
  • Finishing the interview before the interviewer's done - Don't schedule anything for the time after the interview, they can run over and it will reflect terribly on you if you have to excuse yourself before the hiring manager has finished asking questions.
  • Speaking inaudibly - Give your answers in a clear, voice that can be heard from across the table. Looking at the interviewer when you speak to them will direct your voice to them.
  • Forgetting all about the interview after it's over - Whether or not you think you've done a good job in the interview you should follow up afterwards. A simple thank you email will suffice, and reiterates your interest in the role.
Now you know how to avoid interview mistakes, find out what you should be doing in Michael Page's interview advice article.