There’s really nothing worse than coming within a hair’s breadth of the job of your dreams only to have it snatched away from your grasp at the very last second. As millions of jobseekers have found out during their time, being unsuccessful at the interview stage of the recruitment process feels like a real kick in the gut. They obviously liked your application and your background, which of course means it must be something you did or didn’t do at the time…a real bummer to say the least.
What’s interesting however is that no matter whether it’s high flying engineering jobs, entry-level fast food work or really anything else across the board that’s being applied for, the most common interview mistakes perpetuate at all levels. There are so many very minor, very easy-to-make mistakes that can really do a number on your chances, so if you have a feeling you’ve ever been affected by the following…well, let’s just say you know what not to do next time around:
1 – Not Leading the Conversation
Don’t let the fact that an interview is in a technical sense a question and answer session – it’s more importantly a conversation and one you should be leading. There’s really nothing worse than a prospective employee that sits idly by in silence and only ever has something to say when prompted. This paints a picture of someone that will only do their job if poked with a stick on a regular basis to motivate them – not the ideal candidate in any way, shape or form. So, rather than waiting to be asked about something you know is of key relevance, try bringing it up yourself and steering the conversation in your favour.
2 – Lack of Relevant Knowledge
Now, before making this point it’s important to understand that you aren’t expected to have encyclopaedic knowledge of the company you’re working for and nor will memorising a bunch of random figures earn you any real credit. However, even worse still is to go along to the interview with no idea whatsoever about the brand, what it does, how/why it does it and where you might fit in. If they have a specific ethos or unique policy, you need to know it. If they sell a product, you need to know it inside out. If there’s something they’re famous for, you have to get across how and why you’ll fit in as part of the team behind it.
3 – Asking the Wrong Questions
Just as there are certain questions that will assist your application and hopefully lead to your success, others will do the exact opposite. For example, it’s one thing to ask about future promotion prospects and the long-term career ladder, but asking “How quickly will I be promoted” is never the best idea. Likewise, you can always ask about things like overtime and the like, but there’s little to gain from bringing up the subject of salary like it’s the be all and end all. Likewise, the same goes for time off, sick pay and paid holidays etc. Instead, make it clear that it’s the job you’re interested in and not just the perks.
4 – Poor Punctuality
This applies to both ends of the spectrum as while it’s of course a no-brainer that turning up late isn’t a good idea, it’s also not in your best interests to be hanging around the place for hours before your interview. You might think this shows enthusiasm, but in reality it’s mostly just interpreted as the inability to make good use of your time and be punctual when necessary.
5 – Silence
There’s nothing more unappealing in an interview than a blank expression and silence – it just makes things awkward for everyone. As such, it’s important to carefully research what you’re likely to be asked ahead of time and to make sure you’ve got something to say for all eventualities. But if and when the time does come that you are genuinely stumped for an answer, it’s far better to say “You know what, I’ve drawn a complete blank, could we please come back to that a little later?” than to just sit there in silence squirming.
6 – Forgetting Follow-Ups
Last but not least, you’ll most likely be told of a timeframe during which you’ll find out if you were successful, but there’s not necessarily any harm in making contact on at least one more occasion in the interim, just to reaffirm your enthusiasm. Of course, it’s important to never cross the line into being pushy or impatient, but if you can pull it off, it might just work in your favour.