Five common interview mistakes to avoid

Article by Barney Ely, Regional Managing Director at Hays

job interview, handshake, two women shaking hands, weaknessThe interview process is daunting for most jobseekers, however there are steps you can take to make sure you can avoid the most common interview mistakes.

Recruiting experts, Hays shares five of the most common interview mistakes to avoid.

“What many jobseekers don’t realise is that your interview starts even before you enter the room”, says Barney Ely, Regional Managing Director at Hays.

“First impressions are key so make sure you introduce yourself well to the interviewer, but also to the employees you may meet beforehand, whether this be at reception or whilst you are waiting. Often your interviewer will ask people for their first impression of you, so it will certainly work in your favour if you come across well.”

Secondly, you may have done your research on the company you are interviewing with, however don’t make the mistake of just looking on their website alone says Barney. “You will impress if you can present examples of initiatives the company has taken part in that you’ve seen in the press or news you have seen on their social media channels. Talk about what you found in your research, and how you made a conscious effort to understand how their business works.”

Thirdly, be mindful of asking questions the interview won’t want to hear says Barney. “If you come to the interview with an idea of good thoughtful questions you can ask, this shows a good level of proactivity and interest. However, there are some questions you should make a conscious effort to avoid.

“Avoid any questions which you could have found during your research such as ‘when was the company founded?’. Additionally, make sure to avoid asking questions that start with ‘would I have to…’, this indicates a reluctant and negative attitude. Instead, you can re-phrase to ‘I’m keen to know if this role could involve.’”

“A fourth tip would be to also avoid speaking negatively during the interview. Some interviewers might ask ‘why are you looking to leave your current employer’ or ‘tell me about a time you failed’. Whilst you want to be as transparent as possible, practice answering these types of questions in a positive and factual way.

“For example, when asked why you want to leave your current employer, you could say something like ‘I have really learnt a lot at my current company, however I believe I can progress my career in a much larger organisation such as this one, where I see lots of opportunity for development.”

Lastly, make sure your body language is positive throughout the interview, says Barney. “Along with eye contact and hand gestures, stay aware of your other non-verbal forms of communication too. Smiling is important, especially if you are listening to what the interviewer is saying.

“Whilst your interviewer will expect you to have some pre-interview nerves, you are unlikely to impress if you don’t come across like you have approached the interview in a positive manner.”

“Remember that most interview mistakes are avoidable, you just need to know which to look out for. Despite your best intentions, you may still make a mistake and if this happens don’t be too hard on yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have ruined your chances, and you may have learned a valuable lesson for next time.”

Barney Ely About the author

Barney is Managing Director of the South East region of Hays and is responsible for 16 offices in the area. He joined the business in 1993 as a business graduate and much of his career has been recruiting for blue-chip organisations and SMEs. There are 185 consultants in the South East region who work across over 20 industry sectors including construction, accounting and finance, IT, marketing and education.

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