Top 5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Well done, you’ve got an interview! But how do you avoid making the most common mistakes when interviewing?

1. Being Unprepared

Before attending any interview, you should take the time to research the employer. It is likely they will ask you why you want to work at the company and what your know, and you should be able to give them valid answers.

What to find out before your interview:

  • Type of Interview: Find out what type of interview you will be having (e.g. competency based, practical, panel, etc.), and prepare answers tailored to the types of questions expected. A good tip to anticipate the questions that might be asked is to reread the job description and pick out the key skills and competencies they are looking for. By having answers prepared that you can customise to specific questions, you are more likely to convince the interviewer of your suitability for the role.
  • Timekeeping: Being prepared for your interview also means figuring out how you are going to get there. Not arriving on time is a sure way to make a bad impression – if for any reason you are running late, you should always inform them of this. Being late gives the impression that you are uninterested in the job and can put you at an instant disadvantage.
  • Technology: Today many employers are opting to conduct interviews over video – in this case it is vital to ensure all of your equipment and links are working beforehand, and that you are located in a suitable setting to conduct the interview. Pay particular attention to your background, and what may be just out of shot – some video clients actually transmit a slightly larger view than what you can see, so make sure that dirty washing is in a different room!

Find more detailed advice on how to prepare for your interview

2. Speaking Negatively about Previous Employers or Colleagues

Although you could be leaving your current company due to unfortunate circumstances, it is important that you don’t overly criticise them. While it is fine to say, for example, that you wish to leave due to a lack of progression opportunities, it is not ok to bring up conflicts or issues you have had personally.

If you do speak negatively about a former employer, your interviewer may get the impression that you will also speak negatively about them. This is particularly important if you are interviewing at a company in the same sector as your current employer, as you don’t want to accidently divulge any sensitive information.

3. Being Unable to Explain your Motivations

Not being able to explain your motivation for applying to a new job can significantly hinder your chances of landing the position. It is essential to prepare for interviews by reflecting on your career goals, the reasons you find the job appealing, and how it fits into your overall career path.

So why would a prospective employer be influenced by your motivations?

  • Lack of Clarity: When you can’t articulate your motivation for applying, it indicates a lack of clarity about your career goals and aspirations. Employers want to see that you have a clear direction and purpose in your professional life – without a well-defined motivation, you may come across as uncertain or unfocused, which could raise doubts about your commitment to the role.
  • Cultural Fit: Companies often prioritise cultural fit during the hiring process. When you can’t explain why you want to join their specific organisation, it suggests that you haven’t done enough research about the company. Employers want candidates who align with their values and can seamlessly integrate into the team.
  • Performance and Engagement: Motivated employees tend to perform better and be more engaged in their roles. If you can’t articulate why you want the job, the employer might assume that you are solely interested in finding any job and are not genuinely interested in this particular position.
  • Career Growth: Generally speaking, employers want to hire candidates who view the job as an opportunity for professional growth. Being able to explain your motivation allows you to highlight how the role aligns with your long-term career plans and how it can help you develop as a professional.

4. Letting Nerves Take Over / Having the Wrong Attitude

Although it is common to be nervous when it comes to interviews, it is important that you still portray your ability to fulfil the role. A tip for when you are struggling to answer a question, is to pause and repeat the question while you gather your thoughts. This will give you time to recall the answers you have previously prepared.

On the other side, appearing too self-assured can also impact you negatively. While it is great to be confident in your abilities, be careful to still seem grateful for the opportunity to interview and describe what you can bring to the role without coming across as arrogant.

5. Not Asking Any Questions

Once the interview is drawing to a close, it is likely that your interviewer(s) will ask you if you have any questions for them. It is just as important to ask questions, as it is to answer them. Asking the interviewer questions shows that you are seriously interested in the role and will help to build rapport with them.

Think about questions you wish to ask before your interview, and be careful to avoid asking any questions that you could research the answer to yourself. For example, if you were to ask what the company does, this will give the impression that you haven’t done much research and therefore aren’t really interested in the role and/ or company.

Instead, ask questions about what you personally find valuable in a role, whether that be opportunities for job progression, training programmes or work culture.

Click here for some great questions to ask at your job interview

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Four people in a job interview