Typical job interview mistakes - and how to avoid them!
Arriving too early
Okay, everyone knows that arriving late is a big no-no when it comes to job interviews. But there is such a thing as arriving too early, too! It can throw a spanner in the works for your prospective employer’s schedule by making them feel rushed to finish what they are doing and interview you. According to Amy Polefrone, CEO of HR Strategy Group, the best time to arrive for your interview is 10-15 minutes early. Any earlier than that, and you risk making a bad impression. If you do arrive earlier than that, go to a nearby cafe and go over your interview prep notes until you get to that perfect arrival window.
Speaking poorly of previous employers
If you had a really bad experience and left your last job on bad terms, it can be tempting to badmouth your previous employer to anyone who will listen. We get it, everyone needs to vent - but save it for your friends and family. Whatever you do, don’t start telling your interviewer how bad your previous employer was and how much you hated working with them! Even if you were the perfect employee and just got really unlucky, hiring managers could interpret you speaking poorly of a previous employer as you scapegoating them for your own weaknesses in the job. They might also think, ‘If they’re saying bad things about their previous employer, what happens if we hire them and then they leave - will they start saying bad things about us next?’ When the question of ‘Why did you choose to leave your previous role?’ comes up, talk about it not being a cultural fit, or about just being ready for new challenges.
Being unsure of facts on your own CV
Go about answering this question carefully. You want to highlight some areas of the role that you think will require a little extra care, but you don’t want it to sound like you’re terrified of the job you’re interviewing for. Look through the job description and see if there’s anything on there that makes you a little nervous - perhaps it’s a type of software you haven’t used before, or maybe it’s a new level of responsibility for others. Once you know the challenges, think about how you would deal with them. Would you put time aside to familiarise yourself with new programs? Would you communicate openly with new team members to ensure that your leadership style aligns with their needs? Hiring managers don’t mind that you may find some aspects of the job challenging, but they need to know you’ll be up to it!
Pretending to know something you don't
Chances are, you’re going to be asked about some programme, software or the like that you will need to use in the role you’re interviewing for. If you don’t have experience of it, don’t pretend that you do! Sooner or later, the truth will come out. Either they will ask you more questions about it and you will stumble, or they’ll offer you the job and it will become clear that you’ve never used it before. Be honest and say that you don’t know. But don’t stop there! Give examples of similar programmes that you have experience of, or point out times that you have learnt to use new equipment in a previous role and picked it up quickly. You don’t need to know everything, but you need to be willing and able to learn. Interviewers will appreciate your honesty.
Asking the wrong questions at the end
At the end of most interviews, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. This is not the time to ask about salary or benefits. Having no questions at all is also not a good response - recruiter Abby Kohut says that an interviewee who doesn’t ask any questions is very frustrating for hiring managers. It’s important to ask questions, and it’s important not to ask the wrong ones. So what should you ask? Here are a few good go-to questions to ask the interviewer:
- What is the company culture like?
- What do you like most about the company?
- What is a typical day in this role?
Remember, you’re trying to impress them in this interview, but it’s also a chance for you to see if this company is the right fit for you. Ask questions that will help you get a feel for what working at this company would be like and that demonstrate your enthusiasm for joining the company.
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