You've scored yourself an interview but don't go and blow your chances of winning your dream job by doing the wrong thing. Here's what "not to do" when it comes to interviews. By Hannah Nicholas
Bad first impression
Whatever you do, don't be late and don't show up looking hot and sweaty, untidy or out of breath. Your first impression will go a long way.
While a little small talk is great for settling nerves before the formal interview begins, be careful what you say as some interviewers use it as part of their strategy.
And remember to turn your mobile phone off!
Not being prepared is just about the biggest mistake you could make when it comes to job interviews. When you are offered an interview, make sure you ask what form it is likely to take so you can prepare (i.e. one-on-one or a formal, panel interview). Ask who will be attending and their positions within the company.
Research the company and the role look at the company's website or other published material. Going to the interview knowing nothing about the company to whom you are talking is a big mistake!
If you've been asked to bring documentation with you, prepare it well in advance in a neat and presentable manner. The last thing you want to do is pull a pile of papers out of a plastic bag.
In addition, you'll need to ready yourself for the type of questions you will be asked:
- Common interview questions
To prepare yourself, focus on:
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Demonstrating your skills and experience
- Reasons why you should be hired
- Providing practical examples of past behaviour, which demonstrate your competencies
Interviews are a two-way street and just as much as the interviewer is screening you in terms of your suitability for the position, you must use the interview as your chance to see if they'd make a suitable employer. This is where it's important to have a handful of well-thought out questions on hand. Not doing so can also make you appear uninterested in the position.
To show your interest, ask things like:
- What the average work day for this position is like?
- Why the position is available?
- Who they see as the ideal fit for the role?
- What the next steps are following the interview?
Don’t initiate any talk of salary at the first interview. If you are asked what you currently earning or would like to earn, be careful how you phrase your reply but be truthful. In some cases it's best to keep this information under wraps and let them come to you with an offer first.
Not dressing for success
Think about the image you wish to project when planning your interview outfit. Don't leave it to the last minute; get the outfit ready the day before so you'll avoid any last minute disasters like a dirty suit or missing button.
Remember to dress suitably to match the culture of the company. You want to look like you fit the part already. Pay attention to little things like perfume and aftershave, jewellery and make-up.
Poor body language
Getting your body language right is an important part of winning an interview. While it's always important to act yourself, there are some things you should always do. These include:
- Maintain eye contact at all times
- Address all people in the room
- Look interested
- Show that you are listening by using appropriate cues like nodding
- Have a firm handshake
You want your body language to project confidence, enthusiasm and belief in your own skills and experience. Therefore, avoid:
- Crossing your arms
- Sitting rigid
- Nervous gestures like tapping your feet, playing with your hair or crossing and re-crossing your legs
- Using your hands too much when talking
Failing to follow-up
Once the interview's over, don't leave things there no matter how great or badly you believed you performed. Follow-up the meeting with a brief email (or letter) to the interviewer thanking them for their time, reiterate what you believe you could bring to the position adding any points you think you didn't get across at the interview and end on a positive note.
Other common traps
- Being too friendly in your approach
- Not listening to what’s being asked or interrupting the interviewer(s)
- Being over enthusiastic or under enthusiastic
- Being negative about a former employer
- Rambling, keep your answers short and succinct
- Answering with just a "yes" or a "no"
Have your say: are you guilty of any of the above? Do you have any interview tips to share with job hunters?