Most Common Interview Mistakes & How To Avoid Them!

Most Common Interview Mistakes & How To Avoid Them!

It goes without saying that the biggest hurdle in the recruitment life cycle is the interview. This week I have been looking at how I can increase my candidates’ success rate at interviews, so they can secure that new and exciting job.

To do this I have been looking to the past like any good Historian and learning from the mistakes made from previous interviews. Sharing this information with the next interviewee is vital as it gives them the benefit of hindsight and the best chance of securing that dream job.

During my research into my candidates’ past interviews I have found the following 5 mistakes that keep cropping up and have resulted in candidates being turned down:

1. Not being prepared

Not being prepared is the most common mistake and is made before the interview happens. This includes not researching the company, not researching the interviewer (their position & duties etc.), preparing for a competency based interview and familiarising yourself with the STAR* method etc.

*Contact me for a free competency based interview guide.

It will be clear to the interviewer if you haven’t prepared and the interview will be a bigger challenge for you even before you enter the building. To prevent this make sure you research the company, the person who will be interviewing you, seek interview advice from friends, family or the FPSG agent all of whom can help you practice answering competency based questions.

Doing this will make the interview easier and you won’t get caught off guard!

2. Being late

Don’t be late!!!

This is the worst mistake you could make as it puts a negative on your interview from the outset. Leave with plenty of time to spare, to avoid being made late by buses being late, trains cancelled etc.

If you end up being 30 min to 1 hour early, go to a local café and review your notes.

Please note, being too early is not far behind being late in terms of punctuality – approximately 10 minutes early is perfect.

3. Not being presentable

Interviews are all about first impressions and it is a big mistake not to be presentable.

Underdressing, slouching, hunching and mumbling are all attributes which affect how presentable you are. Make sure you dress appropriately for the interview and also practice your handshake.

I always recommend business attire, unless my clients specifically request not to. Not doing this can come across as disrespectful and unprofessional. Don’t confuse interview attire with the company’s dress-code, as a growing trend within some companies is that they have casual dress policies (especially within tech companies).

However, it would be a mistake not to dress to impress. Jeans and a t-shirt would make you look unpresentable. So instead, stick to the traditional interview dress-code and you’ll do just fine.

Being presentable is a key competency in every professional environment. Perfecting these attributes will ensure you won’t fall down at the first hurdle.

4. Being vague or generic

Being vague or generic is a mistake that a lot of candidates make and will leave the interviewers feeling underwhelmed and uncertain.

It is key that you use specific examples. Make sure that you detail specific projects that you have worked on, the actions you took, the size of projects or budgets and teams you have managed and the types of stakeholder or clients you have managed etc.

Doing this will back up what has been said on your CV and will peak the interests of your interviewers.

5. Not taking credit

Not taking credit or being modest during your interview is a mistake, as you are underselling your achievements and abilities. You also run the risk of someone else being given the credit for the work you have done.

Avoid saying phrases like “we did this” or “we delivered that” as it passes credit to the team and not to yourself.

When detailing the actions you have taken, make sure you clearly state that “I did this” or “I delivered that” as it will clearly identify what you have and can do.

Not taking credit has the same effect as being vague or generic. Make yourself stand out from the crowd and claim your professional achievements.

Moving forward

Moving forward I will be passing this advice on to all the candidates I manage through the recruitment lifecycle.

Being aware of and avoiding these 5 mistakes will improve your success rate at interviews, resulting in a shorter time on the market and more options to choose from.

For more information on the services I can offer you as a candidate or client, please feel free to message and connect with me on Garry McKay FPSG LinkedIn or or @GMFPSG on Twitter.

Let FPSG help you meet your recruitment goals by contacting us on
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Author: Garry McKay