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Common Interview Blunders to Avoid
When you make it to the interview phase for a job, you need to be prepared to perform at your best. Why? Because there is almost nothing you can do to recover from a bad interview.
Below, Harvey Nash looks at some of the common mistakes candidates make when talking face-to-face with employers. Learn from their mistakes, and you are sure to start your interviews a few steps ahead of the job-seeking pack.
Lack of awareness of the company
Your basic interview preparation should include finding out about the company and the role you are applying for. The biggest interview killer is this question: "So what do you do here exactly?"
Conservative business attire is always the most reliable way to dress. Don't be misled by a company's casual dress code. Interviews are considered a formal business situation. Dress up, look sharp and be sure to leave your chewing gum at home. Relax once you are hired.
Lack of preparation
Anticipate the technical and personal questions that each interviewer will most likely ask. Relate experiences you have had to the skills and personality attributes in question. Be prepared to answer questions with specific examples of your strengths and accomplishments.
Failing the basics
Turn up on time. If you fail to make the effort, you will fail to get the job. If you anticipate being late or canceling the interview, call the interviewer as early as possible. This conveys courtesy as well as demonstrating that you are in control of your schedule, even when a crisis arises. Few managers will reject you if they are given reasonable notice.
Even though companies say they hire candidates with particular skill sets, interviews depend significantly on the connection between interviewer and candidate. If you express and exhibit enthusiasm for your work, your career and the new company, you are much more likely to receive a second interview or potentially an offer.
It's good to remember that how you say something is just as important as what you say. Be aware of how you're communicating during an interview. Are you making strong eye contact? Sitting up with good posture? Are you focused and clear? Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you aren't engaged, they won't be either.
Never criticize a former company, position or boss. You can "re-frame" your job frustration by talking about your desire to contribute more, participate on a team or assume greater challenges. Almost everyone has worked for a difficult boss at some point in his or her career; this is one of the top reasons why people change jobs. Keep your comments and your attitude positive; negativity about your former or current company is another interview no-no.
Failing to listen
During the interview ask about the skills, experience and personality traits that are important to success on the job. Then listen to the answers. You will then need to articulate these same qualities as they apply to you. If you are too busy formulating your next idea to listen carefully, you will miss critical information. If you don't take time to listen to the interviewer, you will end up shooting at a target blindly as you try to answer questions you have not quite heard.
Lack of supporting evidence
People remember stories far more than they remember facts and figures. Be sure to have evidence and anecdotes to illustrate your skills, personality attributes and experience relevant to the job.
Lying or embellishing
Never lie in an interview. It will come back to haunt you. Once you start to lie, it is impossible to stop, and the lie will get more and more involved. If you are caught, not only will you forfeit the job, but you also risk your professional reputation in the marketplace.
Over embellishment, rather than lying, is a more common interview failing. The line between embellishment and lying is a fine one. Be proud of your achievements, talk them up, but never make them up.
How to turn an interview around
Even if you avoid all these blunders, an interview can still run into trouble. What happens if you know you are botching the interview? Correct it. Once you leave the room, your fate is sealed. If you know that things are going badly, you can try to put the interview straight. A willingness to admit mistakes is not going to harm the impression you make. If you know where you went wrong, then say so to the interviewer and tell them what you meant to say.
If you have a more nebulous feeling that the interview is running away from you, ask the interviewer outright how the interview is going. Maybe there are specific issues you can address. Tell the interviewer that you don't feel you have made the right impression and provide the evidence of the impression you meant to make. It may not work, but if you really have blown the interview, what have you got to lose?