Interview mistakes to avoid

We know that securing a job interview can be difficult. In competitive markets, recruiters and hiring managers have the luxury of picking from a large pool of suitable candidates and the smallest differences can be used to choose between applicants. So in cases like these it makes sense to do everything you can to optimise your chances of landing the role you’re interviewing for.

  1. Failing to explain why you want the job. Being able to tell a hiring manager why you want their job and not falling in to the trap of bad mouthing a previous employer, focusing on the financial rewards too much, or not having researched the company you’re applying to join or its culture are sure-fire ways of sabotaging your interview. You need to be able to clearly explain why you want the job, what it means for you, and perhaps more importantly what value you can add to the business.
  1. Not adequately preparing for the harder questions that typically get asked in an interview. We all know that interviews will typically involve some ‘harder’ questions where an interviewer is trying to understand underlying reasons behind your application, or just trying to put you on the spot a little to see how you respond under pressure. So, questions like “What’s wrong with your current employer?” or “What are your weaknesses?” or “Tell me about a time you’ve had to work with a difficult person” – are all pretty standard questions that get asked. And they’re all open-ended questions that often don’t have a right or wrong answer. But the way you prepare for them and answer them in the interview can make a big difference. Take some time to prepare adequately for questions like this.
  1. Being too verbose. Being overly chatty, taking too long to explain your thoughts or answering the interviewer’s questions with lengthy responses can often be a warning sign to an interviewer. So, don’t give monosyllabic answers, but equally be focused, ensure you answer the question you’re being asked, and give suitable, but concise background or context to your answers.
  1. Saying “show me the money” too early. You might not actually say “show me the money”, but focusing on the benefits and what’s in it for you too early in the interview can be a real showstopper. Most people will be motivated by the financial rewards and benefits that a new job can offer, but be patient and ensure the interviewer has finished with their questions before you steer the conversation around to this topic.
  1. Not being able to articulate your uniqueness. It’s sometimes difficult for a hiring manager to pick between closely matched applicants, so ensure you’re able to explain what it is that makes you different AND better than the other candidates.
  1. Not being well-spoken. We’re not talking about regional accents here, but we are suggesting that not being able to articulate your responses in a clear and concise manner may limit your ability to secure the role.
  1. Struggling with behavioural questions. Behavioural questions are typically not ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions. They’re almost certainly going to get asked in an interview and adequate preparation means you won’t be the one struggling with them. You could use the STAR Technique to help you answer these questions, or another simpler approach is the “Experience, Learn, Grow model” or Experience + Learn = Grow. Simply explain your experience, talk about how you overcame or accomplished something, outline what you learned from the event, and how you’re now benefiting from that to add value to your current or future roles. Typical behavioural questions might be something like, “If someone came to you with an enthusiastic, yet unrealistic request, how would you handle it?” or “Tell me about a difficult situation you encountered and how you overcame it”.

In each of the cases covered here, preparation is essential. It’s rare that someone can show up to an interview and just wing it… and still come across well. You don’t want to recite answers from memory, but you do want to be able to recall good examples to support your answers without having to sit in the interview racking your brain to remember incidents that happened years ago. Being prepared will help you be concise and articulate, answer the difficult questions with ease, and giving the interviewer a sense of comfort that you’re the right person for the job.

For more invaluable advice, check out our other article Essential Interview Preparation Advice or contact us to discuss your career aspirations and how Harrison Sands can help.