How to avoid making the most common interview mistakes
You can have all the skill and experience in the world for your chosen profession, and possess a glittering CV full of impressive achievements. But if you make a mistake during a job interview and you're unable to showcase your talents effectively, there's every danger you could end up getting stuck in a professional rut.
Here is our list of the most common interview mistakes job seekers make during an interview and, how you can avoid them.
Interview mistake 1: Arriving late
Whatever you do, make sure you arrive promptly for your interview. Even if this means leaving the house at the crack of dawn and getting to your destination an hour early - you can always spend the time on some final preparation over a cup of tea. Not only does arriving late appear unprofessional, but worrying about the time could well stress you out. This may impact on your performance during the interview.
Interview mistake 2: Criticising your current employer
It is poor practice to criticise your current employer - this could come across as bitterness, or give the impression that you have difficulty managing inter-personal relationships. Even if you are applying for a job with a direct rival of your current employer, remaining graceful and diplomatic is advisable - this will show you in a positive light. Hiring managers want to be sure of your motivation in applying - is your priority to join their organisation, or to get away from your current employer?
Interview mistake 3: Interrupting the interviewer
Even if you are bursting with great ideas and are desperate the answer the question being posed by the interviewer, make sure you allow them to finish their sentence. At best, interruptions come across as being slightly rude and awkward. Some interviewers may see butting in as being entirely disrespectful - something which is sure to hamper your chances of success when the final selection is made.
Interview mistake 4: Poor presentation
Candidates should always dress smartly when attending interview, even if they won't be wearing a suit in the workplace should they get the job. Ensuring you are clean and well-groomed is always a good idea - it might not get you the job, but failing to present yourself appropriately can certainly cost you the opportunity. And while a cigarette or a quick half before your interview might help settle the nerves, the smell is unlikely to make a very good impression with the hiring manager.
Interview mistake 5: Discussing your weaknesses
Interviewers often ask candidates what their weaknesses are - be careful how you respond. This is one question you should have a rehearsed answer to, as failing to deal with it appropriately could harm your chances. Discussing your failings as a professional is likely to cast doubt in the mind of the selection panel, but similarly, claiming to have no weaknesses may suggest arrogance and a lack of self-awareness.
Identify an area where you feel there is a slight area for improvement, and also explain to the interviewer what you are already doing to address the challenge. This makes you appear switched-on and proactive, potentially turning a negative into a positive.
Interview mistake 6: Embellishing achievements
Making false claims about your achievements is a mistake and will usually come back to haunt you. Many employers carry out thorough background checks on the individuals they hire, and these may well flush you out.
Exaggerating your abilities at interview - or on your CV - is a false economy, because as soon as you are faced with a challenge you cannot cope with, it will raise suspicions about the information you have provided. If the employer feels they have made an appointment on false pretences, they could well dismiss you on the spot.
Interview mistake 7: Fidgeting
Interviews can be highly stressful for many people, but it is important to give the impression you are fully in control. Fidgeting, coughing, avoiding eye contact - these are all signs that the interviewee is nervous and uncomfortable. Hiring managers are looking for confident individuals who can make a good impression with management, colleagues and clients - so it is important to think about your body language and manner. Sit up straight, take deep breaths before answering questions, and try to appear as relaxed as possible - even if you are crumbling on the inside.
Interview mistake 8: Using bad language
If you swear during your interview then the chances are you aren't going to be offered the job. Irrespective of how good a fit you appear to be for the role, the hiring manager may consider that you pose too much of a risk. Avoid those four-letter words at all costs.