• Shona Lomas

Basic yet surprisingly common Interview Mistakes:

Everyone should know the basics of how interviews work. Through experience, school and careers guidance, or even just a TV show, the format of an interview is near universal. You’ll sit down with 1-3 people and try to sell yourself as an asset to the company.

And with this knowledge of how a basic interview works, there is also a list of things you know you should not do in an interview. Yet a surprising number of people fail interviews because of some obvious faux pas’ that other people would disbelieve. I’m going to go through a few of them now for 2 reasons:

1) If 1 person reads this and takes any of this on board, then I’ll consider this article a success.

2) On my Facebook memories from 4 years ago, I shared a bunch of memes from The Poke with some satirical Job interview memes… I’m going to share a few of them on here, but all credit for them goes to The Poke.

Tip No.1 – Turn that phone off!

People turn their phones down at the cinema but not at an interview. I went to go and see the Sonic movie at the weekend with my daughter, I turned my phone down for it (some didn’t). But for something as important as an interview, a phone can be distracting. You might miss a nuance of a question or the question entirely if your phone makes a chirp or vibrates in your pocket. Also, it shows your potential employer that your mind is not 100% on this interview.

Have you ever felt annoyed when meeting a friend for a drink and they’re staring at their phone the entire time? Imagine how the interviewer feels...

Tip No.2 – Don’t sell yourself short…

Something I’ve been guilty of myself, this one. In one of my previous jobs, I had an interview to step up to Team Leader. I didn’t really want the role to be fair, but I was in a rut in my current role and needed a change. Within 10 mins I told the interviewers “if you already have a previous interviewee in mind for the role, give the job to them”.

I already showed that this role wasn’t I wanted, and when they immediately followed up my statement by asking “so why are you even here?” I stumbled over my answer and that set a dreadful overhanging atmosphere for the rest of the interview.

At the very least you want to justify the time the interviewer is giving you. If you’ve felt as though you can do the role by sending in an application, you need to sound sure as you explain why you are the one, they are looking for.

This is one of the trickier things to get right these days, especially with the awareness we now have towards our own Mental Health. With the increased number of people suffering from depression, a high self esteem can be harder to pull out from within.

Even if you manage to sound confident, you must be careful and walk a thin line otherwise you can go too far….

Tip No.2.5 - … But keep yourself grounded

Do you want to be that person? The one who’s too enthusiastic, the one who is overconfident to the point nothing they say sounds believable?

While confidence is a trait that employers do want to see, overconfidence can quickly turn ugly when questions are glossed over or when the employee tries to sound like they know more than the interviewer.

Tip No.3 – Forget extra copies of your CV.

The interviewer will 95% of the time have a copy of your CV, but when they start asking questions, will you have a copy to refer to? Employers may ask about any gaps in your history, or specific duties in a previous role. Having your own CV in front of you will help keep your memory jogged.

Also, there may be others in the interview who are not normally part of recruitment and therefore may not have your CV. Sharing is caring but having 4 people huddled around 1 copy of a CV will not win any interviews.

Tip No.4 – Not asking questions

There are some standard questions you could ask during the interview. Maybe in your head they sound a bit cliché but when you get the employer talking, that can lead to side questions more tailored to the business. Questions are a great way to show enthusiasm and interest.

Not this question though. This is not a good question… unless you’re aiming for the catering industry, then use at your own risk.

Tip No.5 – Asking the wrong questions

In the same job I spoke about in Tip No.2, the managers used to tell us about the applicants for the good and bad. The biggest red flag I remember them telling me was the number of applicants that would ask about the company’s sickness policy. What were they planning? Often these were temps hired to help through the seasonal period but there’d always be between 5 and 10 kept on permanently.

Money is another risky subject in an interview, it’s something that SHOULD be ok to ask about since the salary is usually on the job advert itself. Yet for some unknown reason it’s more of an unwritten rule that you do not ask about unless the interviewer brings it up first.

Personally, I’ve never been in a position where I’ve been able to negotiate a salary, so I have no tips about how approach that. Upon researching salary negotiating online, Psychology Today says Thursdays are the best day to do so as an interviewer would want to complete their work by the end of the week and therefore often tend to be more agreeable. In short – aim for interviews on Thursdays!

Written by Robbie Smart, Events, Marketing and Recruitment Manager @ SBAProject

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