Top 5 Common Interview Mistakes & How To Fix Them

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You finally land that job interview of your dreams. You do your research, study the company, be your best self – and still no call back. No offer… You’ve probably been guilty of one of many potential interview mistakes, so how do you avoid them?

Having experience of interviewing potential employees for the last 6 years, I wanted to share the most common interview mistakes I’ve come across – and how to fix them!

Showing Up Late, And Not Explaining

Showing up late

I’ve actually been guilty of this myself! I always like to be prepared, so make sure I google maps my destination ahead of time and plan my journey in advance. However, on the one occasion, I attended an interview for a company near my current office. I knew the road so didn’t think twice about it, however the entrance was not so obvious. There was also an evacuation going on in the building next door, so I got held up in the crowds.

Despite the interview going really well, the recruiter flagged that my interviewer highlighted my tardiness as a concern. It had completely slipped my mind to apologise for this. (Caveat, I still got an offer for this job. But had I not explained to the recruiter who then informed the interviewer, I don’t think I would have got a second chance!)

I still see this happening now. Whenever I get a candidate who shows up late, I always check with reception to ask the time they arrived and if they apologised for being late. Needless to say, anyone who turns up late without an apology gets marked down in my books. So quite simply – explain if you’re late!

Treat ‘Em Mean, Keep ‘Em Keen AKA Playing Hard To Get

This good ol’ adage might work well for the dating world. But in recruitment terms, you don’t always get the same effect. If you don’t make enough time to be flexible for interviews you might not seem that adaptable to employers. Yes, it may look good to appear to be committed to your current company that you don’t want to do interviews last minute. But straight out refusing any interviews within office hours?!

I had one candidate request for an interview to be done first thing in the morning at 8 am! And no, I am not a morning person – strike 1. Then said they would have to do a hard stop at 9 so that they could get back to the office – strike 2. Then, “kindly” offered to do a later interview slot at 5:30pm – And you’re out!

Look, I get it. You don’t want to take unexpected leave. But if you’re truly looking for a new opportunity, take the time off. Heck, call in sick if it’s your dream job… Either way, you are making the interviewers life a lot harder by limiting options for interview times.

Dressing Up Or Down Too Much

There’s nothing worse then turning up to an interview fully suited and booted, only to find everyone in jeans and t-shirts. Trust me I’ve been there! I’ve also been on the other end, where candidates coming in for interviews are highly overdressed. It can be quite jarring and set the interview off on the wrong foot as the candidate may become uncomfortable. Recruiters take note – but I do always try to share this as part of my description of our office culture.

There are still many office environments where the men are expected to wear suits and women; heels. However, most companies are a lot more flexible now and you will often find staff wearing jeans and trainers to the office everyday. To make the best choice you should base it on what everyone else is wearing.

But this can make it extremely difficult to decide what the best attire is for a first interview. So make sure to do your research. First things first, ask the recruiter to give you some idea on the office vibe, what do they recommend? Why not do some LinkedIn stalking and see what photos the company has posted of their employees, this should give you some insight into what some team members wear into the office.

I hate to admit it, but it’s slightly easier for women as we can easily wear a blazer over jeans or chinos and shoes and still look relatively smart. Whatever you choose to wear, I always advise women to accent the outfit with a small but bold detail. For me this tends to be a strong blazer. I have my go-to white or pastel pink one as these always make me feel super confident. If you do decide to wear something bold, make sure you’re comfortable in it. There’s nothing worse then seeing a woman come in rocking sky high heels, but then wobbling like a giraffe. You want to stand out, but for the right reasons.

Not Asking Enough (Any) Questions

Asking questions at a job interview

This has to be one of my biggest interview pet peeves! I appreciate that interview questions can cover a lot and so you might feel that you’ve already said all there is to be said. But you’re wrong! This is not for you to use the time to talk about you anymore, this is the time for you to find out if the job and the company is right for you. And not asking says a lot more (in a bad way) than you think.

For example, asking questions shows you’re inquisitive and care about the company you work for. It shows you are interested and could show the recruiter that you are a good team fit. It will also highlight to the recruiter that you would be a potentially engaged member of the team. Check out my tips on questions to ask at an interview here.

Ultimately, don’t forget that the interview process is a two-way one. Not only for the employer to judge you, but for you to judge the employer/company. You will be investing just as much in terms of your time, skills and emotions to a place that you often end up spending more waking hours in than your home. So make sure it’s the right company for you.

Putting The Pressure On

Ok, this one is mainly for the recruiters I work with. But I have also seen candidates do this. As an employer I do like to hear that the candidate is doing well and getting final stage interviews as well as potential offers from other companies. But I also don’t want to feel rushed into a decision.

So if you are interviewing elsewhere do let them know. But at the same time, don’t follow-up with an email with a deadline because you have another offer. As an employer it can be really off-putting when you get a candidate chasing you for a decision and you’re still interviewing other candidates.

A simple “thank you for your time” email as a follow-up should suffice. You could even use this as an opportunity to forward your portfolio or other examples of your work. But leave it at that. Don’t do another follow-up, if the employer hasn’t got back to you there’s a reason – they have your details, they’ll be in touch if they want.

Are you guilty of any of these interview mistakes? Made any others you think I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

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