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The most common mistakes people make in interviews and how to avoid them

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Prior to joining the recruitment industry, I didn’t fully understand how important it was to thoroughly prepare for interviews. I must have been lucky to have ever managed to get a job!

However, now that I am working within the industry, I truly realise how important it is. Time and time again I have seen talented candidates miss out on landing their dream job, not due to a lack of ability, but simply because they have failed to prepare adequately.

Here are some of the most common mistakes I have observed over the years and how to avoid them.

1. Not researching the business you are interviewing for

Never go into an interview without knowing about the company, their products and services, their problems and/or successes and their competitors. It is usually very easy to find out this information on the company’s website or a thorough google search. Fail to do your research and you will come across as a half-hearted candidate who isn’t fully invested in getting the position.

Before the interview, go through the website of the business that you are interviewing for and find out information about the firm. For example - How many offices do they have? Which services do they offer? Latest News?

Some questions you should be prepared to answer are:

  • What does the organisation do?

  • When the business was established?

  • What market does the company cater for?

  • What are the significant trends in this industry? (read industry trade journals and websites to keep up to date)

  • What is the company’s mission/objective?

2. Not being dressed appropriately

Some people assume that if the organisation has a casual dress code, it is acceptable to turn up to the interview in casual attire. This is a big mistake.

For every interview that you attend, you should always be dressed in formal attire, regardless of whether the staff working at the organisation are all in jeans. Even if you feel a bit overdressed, it creates the impression that you are taking the interview seriously and making an effort to impress.

3. Turning Up Late

Yes, I am stating the obvious but you'd be amazed at how many people do turn up late for interviews simply by not allowing themselves ample time to get there. This is a definite no.

Always give yourself longer than you need to get to the interview. London transport can be unpredictable at the best of times, so always leave extra early to ensure that your train cancellation/tube delay doesn’t impact your chances of getting the job.

If the worst does happen and you know you are going to be late, call you recruiter or the interviewer as early as possible to warn them that you will be late. This is not only common courtesy but the interviewer is more likely to be understanding of any train delays etc. if you have given them ample warning.

4. Turning up too early

Some people, keen to make a good impression, end up arriving at the interview extra early. However, turning up too early can actually give a bad impression to potential employers.

Although it does demonstrate that you are keen, interviewers are busy people and arriving too early implies that you don’t value their time by putting pressure on the person interviewing you to see you sooner than the time scheduled.

Arrive at the location early and then go for a walk or sit in a coffee shop to gather your thoughts, then go to the interview 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time.

5. Not having any questions to ask at the end of the interview

It is so important to have some questions ready to ask the interviewer at the end. Candidates who don’t ask any questions give the impression that they are not fully interested in the role and will lose out to other, better prepared jobseekers.

Sometimes, you might find that the questions you intended to ask are already covered during the interview, so I would recommend preparing a list of at least 5 questions so that you have some others to fall back on.

Example questions would be:

  • What challenges will I face in this role?

  • What is the working environment like?

  • What qualities are you looking for in the ideal candidate?

  • You can even ask the interviewers, what do you enjoy about working here?

By asking these questions, you are showing that you are interested in learning more about the role, the business and also you are engaging the interviewer by asking what they enjoy about working at the company. Try to gain as much information as possible from your interview. Do not leaving wishing you had asked a questions or asked for clarity on a question.

Remember, practice and preparation makes perfect

As well as avoiding the above mistakes at all costs, it is often a good idea to run through some practice interview questions with someone before the interview and ask them what they think about your answers, see if they can help you improve.

Lastly, try to relax and enjoy your interview. At the end of the day, you are just talking to another person.

Good luck!

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