It takes a lot of hard work to get an interview — congratulations! Every interview shows how much people value your skills and expertise.
But a shining CV and excellent references can only bring you so far. An interview is a snapshot of you at work. You’ll need to show people you’ve never met what you can offer.
Some common and easily avoidable interview errors could blow your chances. Here’s how to ace the conversation.
1 - Do Your Research, Be Interested
Nonchalance, disinterest, and job knowledge gaps don’t wash. Demonstrate your interest by knowing the job, the company, and why you want to work for them.
A cursory glance at the company’s website won’t suffice. Research the company’s beliefs and beginnings and if it’s part of a larger organisation. Does the firm have a mission? Ensure you know their products and services and analyse their market position.
Even better, think about how your accomplishments can drive the company’s objectives and frame these as positive stories. Be prepared for stock questions like ‘What do you know about us?’ and ‘Why do you want to work here?’
And don’t forget to have a few insightful questions of your own to ask our interviewer.
2 - Dress Appropriately
Having done your research, you’ll know what sort of clothing is expected. Interviewers want to see someone who looks like they already work for the business.
That usually means dressing conservatively, showing you are making an effort, are trying not to offend, and are respectful. You control what you wear, and interviews know that.
Be wary of dressing provocatively, with exposed cleavage a big no-no. Choose something industry-relevant. For example, an internet start-up might want something a little trendier than a law firm.
First impressions last; dress inappropriately, and you could blow your interview in ten seconds.
3 - Know Your Interviewer
Many job interviews state who will talk to you at interviews. Don’t breeze in without looking into who they are and their company role. It would be uncomfortable to be interviewed by the CEO without knowing.
Look at where your interviewer is from and see if you share anything in common. Use LinkedIn for tips. Perhaps you went to the same school or university, or are from the same town? Clubs, colleges, volunteer work — the possible connections are many.
4 - Don't Be Late and Don't Be Too Early
Have we mentioned research? Your route needs planning and practice, too. Do a trial run so you can anticipate any issue. Check for parking fees, train times, and possibilities of delays.
Enter the company building 5-10 minutes before the interview starts. If you arrive earlier, go somewhere else until the timing is right to approach the firm. Be nice to everyone you meet, from the security guard to the receptionist, because many interviewers ask staff about every interviewee’s behaviour.
Use your pre-interview time to watch people in the building. Is the company buzzing? Are people stressed? What’s the vibe? You can learn a lot in a short space of time.
Oh, and never arrive late if you want the job.
5 - Don't Lose Focus
Everything about your body language and mental preparation need to be in sharp focus. Don’t eat or drink before you go in.
Turn your mobile phone off, so there are no interruptions. Make eye contact, stand tall with your shoulders back, and offer a firm handshake.
Listen carefully to instructions and questions and if you are unsure of anything, ask them to repeat what was said. Avoid flirting and trying too hard to make people laugh.
6 - Don't Lie: Be Truthful, Concise, and Attentive
Quite simply, telling half-truths or blatant lies will only come back to haunt you. Tell the truth, even if you think your answer may put you at a disadvantage against other candidates. If you don’t know something, explain how you would obtain a solution or more information.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself and use previous experiences to showcase how you will grow into the role. Remember to rein it in on occasion; it’s not all about you. It’s about you and the company. Ask questions if appropriate, from the day-to-day job responsibilities, whether the job is new, and so on.
Keep answers concise and avoid overly longwinded and gushing replies.
Exercise discretion about previous employers, family issues, or money worries. Interviewers don’t want to hear about your partner or the ongoing fight with your current boss, even if you are in the right. Breath deep and give a positive answer.
7- Don't Make It All About the Money
Some jobs advertise salaries and others don’t, and the debate about which is fairest rages.
In interviews, it’s best not to bring up the salary and benefits too soon. If you have to know, ask later on in the discussion. Ideally, wait until after you have been offered the job and negotiate if your expectations are not met.
8 - Don't Be Afraid to Have Weaknesses
A classic interview question is ‘What do you consider your biggest weakness?’
Make this a well-considered and thoughtful answer with a cheerful ending. Give an honest answer, a true weakness. Talk about how you have addressed the deficiency or learned a new skill to help cope with your fault.
9 - Don't Chase People for a Job Offer
Always swap business cards at the interview end. Send a thank-you email the day after the interview, but avoid formulaic replies to show you maintain interest in the job and the interviewer. If you used a recruiter, thank them, too.
Don’t send gifts, and don’t constantly chase people for an answer. Some companies can take weeks to decide who they will hire. A gentle reminder after a month or so is okay.
And remember, you won’t get every job, and you will make interview mistakes. Learn, recover, and use the experience to further your success.
10 - Don't Take Revenge on Social Media
Don’t vent your spleen on social media if you don’t get the job. Similarly, if you get the job, don’t use social media to attack your previous employer.
No one appreciates a public dressing down, even if it’s justified, so remain professional in all your communications.
Tips for Remote Interviews
- Video interviews require similar seriousness. Dress well, ensure no interruptions, test your internet connection, camera, and phone. Be patient if there are technological glitches.
- Phone interviews are best on a landline. Speak clearly and a little more slowly than you would in person.
Avoiding Interview Errors
It’s easy to fall into classic interview errors. Many mistakes are easy to avoid by doing research, remaining calm, and adhering to the adage that less is more.
Be you, but be professional.