Common interview mistakes

7 common interview mistakes and how to avoid them The average number of interviews you’ll do before getting that job offer is between 2 and 3. That’s a lot of time trying to make a good impression to a potential employer (or worse, panel of decision-makers). What if you make a slip-up, or say or…

7 common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

The average number of interviews you’ll do before getting that job offer is between 2 and 3. That’s a lot of time trying to make a good impression to a potential employer (or worse, panel of decision-makers). What if you make a slip-up, or say or do the wrong thing?

It’s something many candidates worry about, but a bit of planning ahead and organisation can go a long way towards making the interview process a more seamless one. Here are the 7 most common interview mistakes, and how to ensure you’re not making them.

Mistake 1: Arriving to the interview late

We’ve put this one first because it’s a) something you can control and b) punctuality goes a long way towards making a good first impression. If it’s a morning interview, set multiple alarms and lay out your clothes and wallet the night before. Check transport timetables beforehand or use a trip planner if you’re driving to ensure you’re there in plenty of time to grab a coffee and/or find a parking spot. If it’s an online interview, log on a few minutes early to the Zoom link or Google Meet room so you’re ready and waiting when the interviewer comes online.

Mistake 2: Choosing an inappropriate outfit

Even if you’re interviewing for a role at a start-up where everyone wears ripped jeans and t-shirts that have seen better days, dressing up a little will make a good impression and show you’re taking the job seriously. Most job interviews call for professional or business attire, which might mean a suit jacket, shirt and tie for men and a blouse and tailored pants or dress for women. You want to aim for neat, tidy and polished.

Mistake 3: Leaving your phone on

The temptation to scroll the ‘gram while you’re waiting for the interview to start may be strong, but it’s not a good look – read over your resume instead. And turn your phone off or turn it to silent before you go in. If you don’t, that little device could be an interview dealbreaker, say experts. For example, CareerBuilder research claims answering a phone call or text during an interview would instantly put you in the ‘no’ pile for 68 percent of employers. Eeek!

Mistake 4: Not researching the employer

Being up to speed on the company interviewing you is essential – you want solid knowledge of who they are, what they do, the type of clients they service and where you and your skills might fit. Skip this exercise, and it could end up being embarrassing if you’re asked a basic question about the company that you can’t answer. As a starting point, Google the employer, read reviews on Glassdoor from past employees, check out their website and client list, and be able to answer questions like, ‘So, what interests you about working here?

Mistake 5: Being unprepared for common questions

Knowing the ins and outs of the role and some common questions the interviewer might ask you is important – especially if there are technical aspects to the role that you need to be across. As a rule of thumb, you should also have prepared answers for questions such as ‘Tell me about your past work experience’, ‘Talk me through your strengths and weaknesses?’, ‘Why are you a good fit for this role?’ and ‘What are your salary expectations?’.

Mistake 6: Not making eye contact or acting strangely

The right body language says a lot about you to a hiring manager – and can jettison your chances of getting hired, according to the same CareerBuilder study. For hiring managers polled in this research, the biggest body language mistakes included not making eye contact with the interviewer (67 percent), failing to smile (39 percent), having bad posture or fidgeting too much (both 30 percent). And acting weird doesn’t help, either: some of the strangest things hiring managers recalled from interviews included ‘a candidate screaming that the interview was taking too long’ and ‘a candidate carrying a pet bird into the interview’. Wow.

Mistake 7: Trashing past employers

First up, bad-mouthing a former boss is always going to reflect badly on you and leave HR managers wondering what the real story is (and whether to hire you at all). You can paint an honest picture of your previous job in a diplomatic way, but be aware of how you do it, given the ‘small pond’ we’re in as employees in Australia and New Zealand. What if your interviewer has worked with your ex-manager or colleagues? It’s a risk you don’t want to take!