Interviews can be stressful situations. There’s nothing worse than losing out on the job you want because of a straightforward avoidable error. Knowing how to interview well is crucial if you want to land the role you’re looking for.
We’ve compiled a short list of dos and don’ts to help you avoid common interview faux pas.
Ask questions. If you’re unsure of the aim of the question, ask the interviewer to clarify. However, keep any negative comments you might want to make to yourself. You’ll want to come across as a positive-minded person to give the best possible impression.
Communicate effectively. Interviews are all about communication and this can make the difference between getting the job and failing at the interview stage. Communicate your points clearly and concisely and don’t be overfamiliar with the interviewer.
Bring all requested paperwork. This includes your CV, (bringing extra copies is always a good idea), any written references and forms of identification.
Follow up afterwards. Within 24 hours of having the interview, write and send a thank you note. This is good etiquette and will be appreciated by the interviewers.
Prepare for the interview ahead of time. Practice the answers to any possible interview questions, but try not to memorise them, otherwise, it will sound like you're reciting them at the interview.
Interrupt the interviewer. Even if you know exactly what they’re going to say and you already have your answer ready, don’t talk over the interviewer. Listening is a key part of successful interviewing, so listen, pause and then construct your answer.
Make a bad first impression. Making a good first impression is critical, as interviewers will often make up their minds about a candidate within the first 5-10 seconds, for better or worse. Prepare yourself for this by having positive language, giving a firm handshake and maintaining strong eye contact.
Be late. Map out the route to the interview location so you know how you're getting there and how long it will take. Plan for traffic and give yourself enough time to be there 10 minutes early.
Speak negatively. Don't criticise your previous company or former employer or colleagues. This will give them the impression that you are a complainer. There is also the chance that the person interviewing you may know or have connections with your former employer.
Bring up salary. Until you've received an offer, don't be pushy about salary, benefits, vacation time or bonuses.
Although it’s natural to be nervous in an interview situation, try to be as authentic as possible. If you come across disingenuously in the interview, this may have negative ramifications if you do end up getting the job. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your future colleagues, so remember that honesty is the best policy and the truth will always come out eventually.
For other useful job search hints and tips please click here, or take a look at the following resources for more advice:
Geoff: This video is all about common hiring mistakes.
David: Timing is absolutely critical. If you're quick through the interview process, it sends out a really positive message to the candidate that you're serious about business. Similarly, if it takes too long, then it can send out very negative messages.
Geoff: The longer your time takes to fill a role, the more uncertain a candidate can feel about the role. So, as an employer, if you're trying to secure the best candidate you can, you need to have a very sleek process in place.
David: Another mistake is when interviewers don't prepare adequately. Often, there can be too many stakeholders involved in the process which means that perhaps people aren't aligned and have different ideas as to what they actually want out of a suitable candidate for that role. It's really important prior to actually meeting candidates that you've taken out the time to sit down with all the stakeholders involved in the process and work out exactly what the role is and what the competencies required are to make a success of the position.
Geoff: And then, finally, a lot of interviewers, scarily enough, haven't always read the resume. So, by being a bit more prepared, it sends much better signals to the candidates. And if you're trying to compete for a really in-demand candidate, you need to make sure you have all these things right. Asking the wrong type of questions can be a fatal mistake.
David: Maybe ask behavioural questions. So, "Demonstrate what you have done in the past." Very widely accepted in recruitment that past behaviour is a very good indicator of future behaviour. So, work out the competencies that are required and devise the appropriate questions around those past behaviours.
Geoff: It's really important in today's world to represent the roles really accurately and, as a recruiter, we often spend a lot of time making sure we represent the roles accurately.
David: If you undersell a role then, obviously, the candidate isn't going to be as interested as you might hope when they leave the room. Equally, if you were to oversell the position and then the candidate starts and it's nothing like what they expected, that's going to cause you big problems down the line as well.
Geoff; It's really important, especially if it's a panel of people interviewing or multiple interviews, that you're all singing off the same hymn sheet and you're representing the role in a really accurate manner.
David: Another mistake is a hiring manager not actually listening to the answers. There's a list of questions that they might think, "Oh, I've got to get through all of these in the next hour," and so, you rattle through the questions and you don't actually listen and probe into the answers. That said, that's a very key point that you need to take on board.
Geoff: For more information, visit the Richard Lloyd website and go to the Hiring managers' page where you'll find the hiring manager toolkit.