Producing a killer CV is one thing. Competition is as tough as ever in the job market, so you need to do whatever you can to increase your chances of success after landing an interview. Many people make the same mistakes again and again when it comes to job interviews, so here are some of the most common mistakes I see people making. Don’t let that be you!
Turn up late
Unless you’ve got a really good reason for being late, this is reason enough for the interview not to go any further, so don’t be surprised if the interviewers don’t see you at all. It’s vitally important to show not only that you’re the best person for the job but that you really want the job and are taking the whole process seriously. If you can’t even turn up on time for the interview, what will your punctuality and attitude to the role be when you work here?
Turn up without a notepad
You might have the world’s best memory and never need to write anything down, but the interviewers don’t know that about you yet so don’t give them a reason to mark you down. They will want to see you taking notes during the interview: writing down a question that occurs to you, perhaps, so you don’t forget to ask it later – or making a note of things to go away and do before your second interview, if you’re lucky enough to get one, that is!
No good interviewer will be offended or think it rude if you’re there scribbling away whilst they’re talking to you. And even if they are, far better to note down important points so that you don’t forget to do what you’ve said you’ll do before the second interview.
Remember also – this process is as much about you finding out about the company and the managers as it is them finding out about you. After all, you need to want to work there and feel you’ll fit in.
Don’t read the job description, so apply for a role for which you don’t have the relevant skills/experience
This will just waste everyone’s time if the job description says you must have at least X years’ experience of XYZ, and it turns out you only started reading up on the subject last week…
Unless the job description specifically states that the company has the time and resources to spend training you or send you on training courses, don’t just say “but I’m willing to learn”. Understand the differences between small businesses and larger organisations. If you want to get your foot in the door somewhere you can learn a new skill, you might be better off applying for a job with a big company with deep pockets to support an in-depth training programme or that has lots of staff with the time in their schedules to help you.
Do no research on the company you’re applying to, or the job role itself
This is one of the worst things you could possibly do in an interview, as it will not only annoy the interviewer but – especially if they’re a founding member of the company – you’re also likely to offend them too. Put yourself in their shoes: they’ve probably put their heart and soul into developing this business and building it up to where it is now, and to the point where it can afford to (possibly) give you a job and pay you a wage. That person probably also has a lot of personal debt tied up in the business, debt which will pay your wages. If you can’t even be bothered to spend the time doing research into his/her blood, sweat and tears, why should they give you a chance to work there? If they feel that they’ll just be squandering what is effectively their own cash by employing you, you can kiss goodbye to that second interview.
Quote the first line of the company’s “About Us” page from their website, when asked what you know about the company
This carries on from the last point, but it’s something which really irritates interviewers. Anyone can go to a website and click the “About Us” page. Congratulations. Do you want a medal?
You need to wow the interviewer with your knowledge of the company. Obviously that will be knowledge as an outsider, but you need to know at least as much about the company and the products/services it offers as their average customer. Tell them which bits impressed you, and what you liked the most. Tell them which bits you didn’t quite understand or what confused you (after all, that could be very helpful to them – you’re fresh blood and a good insight into how other customers view the business). Also be bold enough to criticise – constructively – any parts of the business where you feel they could do better. That will impress the interviewer and give them the feeling that you’re someone who could help take the business forward in a positive way.
Ask questions, the answers to which can be found within 30 seconds of looking on the company’s website
This is another way to really sabotage your own interview. This shows that you really don’t have any worthwhile questions, but you think you probably ought to ask at least something, so you ask a really silly question which not only shows you don’t have any decent questions to ask, but it further demonstrates that you didn’t do your research into the company beforehand!