Got the interview for a new job? Preparing good answers to the typical interview questions provides you with great groundwork for giving a great interview but many candidates can undue all of this good work by committing some of the cardinal sins of interviewing;
1. Late Arrival
This is the worst offense. Consider the interviewer who has a busy schedule but has made room to give you the opportunity to interview for the job, a late arrival will certainly annoy them. Always plan your journey well in advance and add at least an extra 50% to your planned journey time. Contingency travel arrangements are also handy to have should the trains be cancelled, road closed, etc.
Being early is not so bad, just go for a walk and read the paper. You never know the interviewer may wish to start with some small talk to ease into the interview and could hit you with some topics in the news. If you are running late always call ahead and ask to speak with the interviewer themselves, don’t just leave a message for them. Give them as much advance warning as possible.
2. Wrong Dress Code
Turning up to the interview over-dressed or under-dressed can leave you feeling embarrassed and has the potential for the interviewer to think you may not be a good fit for their work culture or work environment. Some companies pride themselves on their casualness, others on their professionalism and others may be casual but will dress more smartly for interviewing. If you are unsure simply call the company and ask to speak with the person conducting the interviews and ask them directly.
3. Being Rude to the Receptionist
Many candidates have ruined or seriously damaged their chances before ever getting into the interview room by being rude or dismissive to a receptionist or a Personal Assistant. Interviewers will often ask their front of office staff what the thought of you and a flippant gesture or dismissive comment can detrimental. Remember you are being observed and evaluated from the moment you arrive at an employer’s premises.
4. Shaky Start
You don’t get a second chance at first impressions. Your first couple of minutes are crucial and it is imperative that they go smoothly. Just follow a few simple steps to open the interview positively; Smile as you enter the room, greet the person with enthusiasm e.g. “It’s good to meet you”, maintain eye contact, give a firm handshake and then follow their lead by waiting for them to sit before you do.
5. Long-Winded Answers
Lengthy answers are tedious and can often bore the interviewer. Too much information in your answer and the message will be lost. Interviewers have short attention span as they are only interested in specific information or clues that suggest you are the right candidate. No interviewer will cut across you even if your answer has run on for 6 minutes, they will instead sit there mutely and pretend to listen.
Try to keep your answers to under two minutes. If you feel that you are losing the interviewer you can check with them halfway through your answer that the info you are giving is useful. Often it can be difficult to see if you are boring the interview but one way is to know is by monitoring their body language. While they may be good at maintaining eye contact the may fail to make any nod with their head or may have stopped writing anything in their notes.
6. Failing the Personality Test
One key box for the interviewer to tick is the personality box, would they be able to work with you? Consider yourself as the interviewer and sitting across from you is a person who you are trying to imagine being stuck on a desert island with or having to sit beside on a non-stop 12 hour flight, “could I have a conversation with this person?”. If the job comes down to you and another equally skilled and qualified candidate then the job will go to the person who was more friendly and easy to work with.
The extreme opposite to point 5 above. ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers will not only appear rude but will give the impression to the interviewer that you either have something to hide, don’t want the job or both. This applies to all stages of the interview. When they ask ‘Did you have any trouble finding the office?’ don’t give a simple ‘No’. Give a sentence or two, don’t make them feel as though the interview is going to be tough to conduct.
8. Seizing the Balance of Power
An unspoken rule of interviews is never try to take control of the interview. The interviewer is in control and you follow their lead at all time. If you feel the type of job you are interviewing for requires you to show you can command a room or a conversation then break this rule at your own risk. There are many other ways to show your strengths.
Never answer a question with another question. Your time for questions is at the end. No matter how odd the question may seem that they have just asked, you must do your best. Tell them a joke, a childhood story or whatever they have requested but you must give your best effort.
9. Discussing Money Too Soon
There is a time and place for this, bring up this topic too soon and you will give a terrible impression with the interviewer. They are looking for an individual who is motivated by more than just money and can be a team player. The earliest you could possibly discuss money at a final round of interviews. Ideally the best stage for discussing money would be at interview stage unless they bring up the topic of pay at an earlier stage.
10. Having No Questions to Ask
When a candidates tells me they have no questions for me at the end of an interview all I hear is ‘I am not that interested in this job or this company’. Always try to ask a minimum of two questions but an absolute maximum of 4 questions. Factual questions about the company or the role itself can be easy to manage for the interviewer. In the event your prepared factual questions have already been answered in the course of the interview than you can ask them something like what is it that makes them enjoy working for the company or something similar.