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6 Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Soley Soucie, Regional Director, Hays Canada, on Tuesday, Jul 24, 2018

6 interview mistakes to avoid | Hays Canada BlogNo interview is perfect. But there are mistakes you may be making that can tank your chances of getting the job. As part of your interview preparation, it’s best to know what those mistakes are so you can avoid making them when vying for your dream job.

Your interview is how you prove to a potential employer that you’re the perfect person for their team. In order to do so, you have to do everything in your power to present a punctual, communicative, engaged persona. Proper preparation before your interview is key to that, but so is watching our for these things you might be doing in interviews that are hurting your chances of getting the job.

1. Arriving late

It’s not impossible to do everything in your power to arrive on time and regardless be late – you can recheck the route the night before, leave early, and still hit unexpected delays. But it’s not good to have your first interaction with a potential employer demonstrate what looks like poor time management skills.

You can never be too organised when planning your journey. Practice your route beforehand if it’s especially unfamiliar, and try to get to the interview location about 45 minutes before. Head to a nearby coffee shop and take the time to go over your notes, take some deep breaths, and get into a positive, confident mindset. But leave yourself enough time to get to the company’s reception area at least 15 minutes before the interview.

2. Ignoring everyone besides the interviewer

On the way to the interview, you’re likely to come across potential colleagues. Some you might meet in the elevator or stairs, while you’re sitting in reception, or making your way through office corridors. You have to at least acknowledge other people, though if you’re comfortable you can greet them or even make small talk. You may be in your interview headspace at this point, but you have to engage with more people than just the hiring manager. Especially if the hiring manager doesn’t end up being the only person in the interview room with you.

It’s also important to create a good impression with whoever you meet at the company because hiring managers sometimes talk to other people in their office about your interactions before the interview. It’s not the only factor that will affect their decision, but if you make a good impression that works in your favour – showing how you perform as part of a team and engage with colleagues.

3. Reciting the company website

You’re almost always going to be asked “What do you know about the company?” No matter how much research you’ve done, do not under any circumstances parrot back content directly from the company website. Interviewers want to know that you understand how a company sees itself and its mandate, and that you can parse new information, rather than how much content you can recite from memory.

Don’t just rely on the website – look to the company’s social media, case studies, and press releases. These give you much better context than website PR copy, and you’ll see how the business works in practice. In the interview, talk about what you find interesting about the company, or the impact it has in the world. You’re trying to show that you’re engaged and made a conscious effort to understand the business better because you care about the company and the opportunity to work with them.

4. Rambling on

It’s a good idea to be personable in an interview, but there’s a fine line between engaged and rambling. Whether it’s through fear or nerves, sometimes you’re going to fill uncomfortable silences or carry on when you’ve said enough. But concision is key when trying to get the job.

Ahead of the interview, have a structure in mind for your interview answers. One of the best approaches is the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Analysis, Result) for answering competency based questions. Practice answering some interview questions using that framework and see how you do. Give yourself room within that structure to make sure the real you is coming across, but use it to help you stay on track with your answers.

5. Speaking negatively

Interviewers will ask you to provide information about yourself or past employers. In both cases, avoid speaking negatively. Even if it’s when answering “Why are you looking to leave your current employer?” or “Tell me about a time you failed.”

You want to be transparent in an interview, but there are ways to answers questions that prompt negative answers without disparaging yourself or a company your interviewer’s going to have to talk to about you. Research which tricky interview questions you might get asked, and practice phrasing answers in a positive and factual way. For instance, “Why do you want to leave your current employer?” can be answered with “I am looking to leave my current employer because I learned a lot in that role, but I’m ready to grow my career beyond it in a larger organization like this one, with more opportunities for personal and professional development.” The questions are less important than the answers you give to them, so read up on how to answer difficult interview questions here.

6. Not having questions at the end

You want a hiring manager to think you’re engaged and eager for the role. One of the easiest ways to screw that up is to be the candidate who doesn’t ask anything at the end of the interview. Even if your hiring manager covers things you’d be asking normally, prepare a number of questions beforehand so that if everything gets covered during the interview, you have spare questions up your sleeve.

Another way to approach this is to go into the interview with a notepad in hand, and jot down new questions that come up as you talk with the hiring manager. You may find there are questions you have about the company and the role that you wouldn’t have known to ask until you sat down to talk.
Every problem you’re going to come up against in an interview is avoidable. Handling the meeting well is about preparation and establishing a solid rapport with the hiring manager. There are going to be times where mistakes happen anyway, and when they do you can’t beat yourself up over them – roll with it and carry on with the interview. Even if that job doesn’t work out, you’ll be better prepared for the next time round.

Ready to take the plunge and put the advice here into practice? Get in touch with Hays today and let us line up an interview for your perfect job.

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