Common Interview mistakes

Common Interview mistakes

The day has arrived.

After all the countless days and nights that you’ve spent scouring the internet in search of that one perfect opportunity that could set you on the path to future employment… You’ve found it.

Through your perfectly formatted CV, you’ve managed to grab the attention of a recruiter that thinks you might have just the right credentials needed to fit the job.

There’s just one problem though, one tiny, minuscule event that stands between you and the job of your dreams (or at the very least… a dream) the dreaded interview.

“Majority of job candidates (93%) have experienced anxiety related to their interview” – JDP survey of 2,018 individuals.

Now, interviews regardless of the amount of time you spend preparing and researching are going to be nerve-wracking. To have to display yourself in front of a stranger (or two depending on the opportunity) and “sell” yourself is an uncomfortable task for even the most adept individual.

But after consulting with the team during one of our daily Coffee & Chat meetings, we feel that in our 40 + years of combined experience we’ve seen some recurring patterns and missteps made during the interview process that we feel could be worth highlighting.

So, what are they you say?

Not researching the company properly

Now at first glance, you might think this is a given in the world of interview preparations… You’ve got an important meeting coming up, so it only seems right that you’d set some time aside to make sure your knowledge is up to scratch on the company? Right?

Well, as mentioned by Billy Fletcher (Associate Director of MRJ) - despite researching seemingly being the most obvious course of action to take when preparing; time and time again organisations will feedback that a candidate simply doesn’t know enough about the company’s background or core values.

"The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win." -Bobby Knight

It’s one thing to know the basic background of a company’s history, But as Cam (our Senior Resourcing Consultant) rightly points out, organisations want to see active interest that stretches beyond just the norm.

In tech sector interviews, for example, it would serve a candidate well to research the precise products that are used by an organisation, so you are not caught off-guard when a specific reference is made by the interviewer. Similarly, as Emily points out, candidates will often neglect to reacquaint themselves with the job role at hand and consequently come under fire when asked “what is it about the role that attracted you?”.

In general, researching is something that should be made a priority, with these minor mistakes and small slipups potentially building up to an organisation viewing a candidate as unprepared…because if you can’t point out what attracted you to the job, what does that say about your overall interest in the role?

Not having control over the day

Now, look. While it is indeed true that we in the midst of a global pandemic where routines are being torn apart and everything seems up in the air, there needs to be some form of accountability laid on both the candidate and the organisation to ensure that both are available for interviews when they say they are. As Ben (our JavaScript consultant) rightly points out, there is an etiquette to interviews regarding punctuality that we often see candidates neglect to follow which can reflect badly on their character moving forward.

“First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes” - Elliott Abrams

Whether that’s turning up late for interviews or changing your availability one too many times; if you can’t take control over your day for an upcoming meeting, how can an organisation expect you to be organised in general? As Cam suggests, it may be a case of looking ahead of time to the possibility of you having an interview and thus blocking off a set amount of days so you have flexibility in your schedule.

Either way, punctuality is a must when meeting organisations for the first time, with a candidate needing to maintain some form of control over their schedules to ensure that the first impression you give an interviewer is a good one.

Bad-mouthing an old company.

It’s easily done when you’re comfortably in the flow of a conversation and freely speaking your mind regarding your CV and past experiences, but bad-mouthing your previous employers during an interview is often a sure fire way to mark you as immediately unsuitable to whatever role is on offer.

As Elen Jones (our Talent Partner) rightly points out, there are often occasions where an organisation will mention that while an individual’s experiences and skillset seemed to align quite well with the role on offer, the candidate’s overall negative attitude towards previous places of employment placed the overall atmosphere on a downer and lay wake to questions being asked regarding “whether they’ll carry these negative experiences into the role I’m offering them”.

“A negative attitude drains, a positive attitude energizes.” - Lindsey Rietzsch, The Happy Lady

And while you should of course be able to freely speak your mind regarding whether a negative experience or event has pushed you to search for a new employment opportunity, it’s important to ensure you try to strike the balance between being honest and not being overly negative. Approach the matter diplomatically and try to detail events without dwelling on them too much.

Not researching the interviewer

If we were to break interviews down to their most basic elements, we could conceivably sum up the entire process as a big, shining litmus test on personality, whereby the interviewer will attempt to discern through questions and conversations whether or not an individual’s character is the right fit for the role that is on offer. But as the MRJ team have made note of during our brainstorming session, there is often one glaring tactic that candidates seem to miss on the runup to job interviews…not taking the time to research who is conducting the interview.

Particularly when dealing with jobs that rest in specific, well-defined sectors that have some overlap in industry talent (tech for example), MRJ often recommend candidates set some time aside to research whether there is common ground that can be struck through mutual connections and interests on LinkedIn.

On top of showing your overall eagerness towards the opportunity at hand (which is never a bad thing) It also serves as an easy ice breaker and a perfect opportunity to see if a possible recommendation could be built up from a past colleague that knows your work ethic.

To conclude

In general though, when looking through the overarching theme that hangs over this entire blog there is one common thread that connects them all; preparation. Simply put, in order to ensure you are adequately prepared for any eventuality that may occur during an interview, a candidate must do their due diligence and put the time in to plan ahead.

Only in preparing and planning can you avoid slipping up on the mistakes and oversights that the recruitment sector all so often see candidates make during the interview process.