During a job interview there are so many things to remember that it’s not surprising if you make the odd mistake here or there. If you’re replaying that slight slip of the tongue or dwelling on an awkward silence, don’t worry about those things, interviewers wont judge you on that.
But there are few things you can’t redeem with a little class and a sense of humour, here are some examples of terrible interview mistakes…
One thing you’ve probably been told time and time again is to make sure you dress professionally. After all, you’re probably not going to impress an interviewer if you look like you’ve just rolled out of bed.
But don’t assume that just because you’re wearing something corporate, you’re necessarily in the clear. A recruiter told us of a candidate who showed up in a suit that was about two sizes too small. Not only was it a very distracting look, the candidate was also uncomfortable which prevented him from focusing on the interview.
But a fashion faux pas doesn’t always mean all hope is lost, the most important thing is to not lose your cool. Lucy Murray held her nerve after she couldn’t change her shirt before an interview. "I’d spilled coffee on my shirt that morning at work. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to get something else organised so I ended up wearing a t-shirt with my blazer done up," she says. "There wasn’t anything I could do about it so I decided to just go in and pretend that everything was normal. They didn’t even notice, and I got the job!"
So what sort of thing should you wear to a job interview? We explain in our simple guide.
No matter how much you dislike your current role, co-workers or a previous manager, it’s never a good idea to say negative things about your previous job. It makes you appear untrustworthy, disrespectful and it’s simply not professional. After all, you don’t want your future employers worrying about what you’re going to say about them the minute their backs are turned.
One recruiter recalls one such interview mistake which lost the candidate a job offer. The recruiters says, "We were interviewing for an editorial role and asked the candidates why they wanted to leave their current job. One woman told us her editor was a total nightmare and was simply jealous because she had a better sense of style. She went on and on about every slight thing she’d experienced, and kept coming back to it even when we changed the subject. The worst part is that one of my colleagues was actually good friends with the editor in question, and she’d actually given the candidate a good reference!".
It’s always best to stick to polite answers and if you can’t, tactfully chance the topic. You want them to know that you can handle conflict in an effective way and you can work as part of a team.
This mistake overlaps with talking too much in interviews. Remember to keep your answers succinct, and to the point. Don’t ramble off on tangents and get side-tracked by your personal life. While it’s good to inject personality into your interview, that doesn’t include sharing every aspect of your day.
Know it all
While confidence is one thing, you don’t want to go into an interview pretending you can do everything either.
Your skillset doesn’t have to match up exactly with every single job requirement so don’t act like there’s nothing you can’t do. Honesty really is the best policy here. If you’re hired because you told an interviewer you could do every task they described flawlessly, it can only backfire spectacularly. It’s a no win situation for both parties!
Employers are usually on the hunt for individuals that stand out in a few areas, so accentuate your strengths and show a willingness to learn new things.
Mobile separation anxiety
We live in a hyper-connected society but if ever there’s a time to switch your phone to silent, it’s during a job interview. It’s staggering how many recruiters have stories of candidates playing on their phones during interviews and even taking calls.
One recruiter recalls, "We once interviewed a guy who said he wasn’t sure how to answer our question so he called his mum! He actually put her on speaker phone and she told us how wonderful he was. I wish I was joking."
Even if you have more common sense than to text during an interview, make sure your phone is on silent so you don’t get any pesky loud notifications while you’re being interviewed. It’s extremely disruptive and will ruin that aura of professionalism you’ve carefully created.
In fact, just keep your phone safely tucked away from the minute you arrive - it doesn’t create the first impression if you’re sitting in the lobby swearing at Candy Crush while waiting for your interview either.
Like, you know, whatever
Your greatest asset in an interview is being well-spoken. This doesn’t mean being pretentious, overly wordy or a know it all. You just need to be aware of your word choices and your phrasing. Try to avoid overusing 'like' or 'you know', and try not to 'um' every second word. Don’t repeat questions back to the interviewer, and pay attention to your own answers so you don’t end up repeating yourself.
Sounds hard? A little time and preparation is all it takes. If you are ready for whatever challenge is presented to you, there’s less chance of any awkward silence. Research potential interview questions and prepare your answers, this will help with articulation.Do your research about the company and come up with some questions for your interviewer. But be attentive, you don’t want to ask something that has already been explained to you!
Remember, it’s about presenting the most professional version of yourself, so resist the temptation to just tell them what they want to hear and always inject your personality into your answers.
Need more interview advice ? Check out our interview section for tips on answering questions, what to wear and how to deal with different types of interviews!