4 common interview mistakes that are easily avoided

At one time or another, most of us have had a job interview that we’d rather forget. Working at a recruitment agency, we’ve heard our fair share of interview horror stories – from the awkward to the cringeworthy to the genuinely bizarre – and we’ve noticed that the same few mistakes crop up over and over again. Here’s our guide to some of the most common interview mistakes and how to avoid them.

Don’t ask the wrong questions

Preparing questions for the end of an interview is vital for a number of reasons. Not only does it demonstrate thorough preparation and a keen interest in the position, it’s also a great opportunity for you to learn more about the role and address any doubts or concerns that you might have. Having said that, it’s also an area where many candidates fall down, often tarnishing an otherwise positive interview by asking unprofessional or inappropriate questions. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid questions about annual leave, benefits, bonuses or flexible working at interview stage. Although these are often important factors when changing jobs, you don’t want to give the impression that they’re your primary concern.

Don’t bad-mouth your previous employers

This is an incredibly common mistake, but one which can seriously jeopardise your chances in an interview. Of course, if you’re looking to change jobs, then you’re probably not entirely enamoured with your current employer. Nonetheless, there’s nothing to be gained by airing your grievances in a job interview. If you complain about your manager or colleagues, the interviewer may worry that you’re confrontational or difficult to manage, whilst painting your previous employers in a negative light may raise concerns about your loyalty or trustworthiness. If you do need to make reference to problems or issues in previous jobs, just ensure that you do so in a diplomatic and tactful manner – otherwise, you may end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Keep it professional

Building rapport is a big part of any interview and it’s always important to let your personality shine through. A company hires a person, not a CV, so it’s fine to talk about your life outside work if the opportunity arises. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to keep in mind that an interview is, above all, a professional meeting. Even if you feel comfortable with the interviewer, you won’t do yourself any favours by acting over-familiar or talking at length about personal or non-work-related matters, especially those that could paint you in a bad light.

Make sure you know your own CV

This may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how often people trip up over something they’ve written themselves. Many interviewers will go through your CV with a fine-tooth comb, so make sure you are clear about what’s on there and are able to speak about each point in detail. It’s especially important to have a handle on any statistics and figures you might have used – targets and KPIs, for example – as you may well be asked to back these up or elaborate upon them. You wouldn’t go to an interview without thoroughly researching the company or reading the job description; make sure you do the same for your CV.

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