7 Lesser Known Interview Blunders - 16th February 2017

That day has arrived, that date circled in red on your calendar. The interview day. Hopefully an interview for a dream job, with a cool company to help you up to that next rung on your career ladder, or even – if you’re out of work – just a job pure and simple. Like most people, hopefully, you’ll have spent time getting prepared. You’ll have read up on the company, the job, done your research and got your head into interview mode. You’ll know that there are some golden rules about being interviewed. The ones that will be running through your mind when you wake up on the day of the interview. You know the ones…Dress smartly, don’t be late, don’t talk too much, don’t forget to ask questions, put your phone on silent and don’t whatever you do answer it mid-interview and don’t under any circumstances talk badly about a former employer – however awful they were.

Let me share with you some other interview rules that some candidates seem to be oblivious to. They seem at first almost innocuous and barely that important. Breaking one on their own may or may not be a deal breaker but – trust me – breaking two or more can seriously hinder your chances. Especially if you’re up against other strong contenders for the role. For your next interview, try and bear these in mind. Add them to the obvious golden rules and you won’t go too far wrong.

  1. Energy: No matter how well you do your prep, and swot up on the company and the job in hand, and practice some standard questions, if your nerves get the better of you, the energy you give off can undo all that good work. Most of us aren’t trained on how to handle interviews, so remember to stay upbeat. Put energy and enthusiasm into your voice. You may be saying all the right things but if you sound flat, monotone and you aren’t sitting upright, you’ll not sound or look convincing. Remember to be the best version of yourself and be full of life. If you aren’t sure how you sound when you are being interviewed, record yourself when you are practising some questions at home and play it back. You may cringe listening to your voice – but you may also hear if your voice needs picking up.
  2. Notes: It’s a simple one, but for most interviews that take place in an office, take a pen and a smart-looking note pad; place them on the table in front of you. Chances are you won’t need to write anything down for most of the interview, but you might – plus it shows you’re prepared and organised. You’ll almost certainly need the notepad towards the end when you’re invited to ask questions. Have a healthy list of intelligent questions about the role, the company, the culture and challenges. You don’t need to ask them all. It shows that you have put some thought and effort in to the meeting.
  3. Putting yourself down: This sounds like an odd one, doesn’t it? As a nation, we Brits are a bit of a self-deprecating bunch. We aren’t generally very good at shouting about how great we are. Maybe it’s the weather, who knows, but sometimes our national trait of being reserved and not blowing our own trumpet can work against us. So, if there’s ever a time to show someone how good you are at something or how brilliant you’ve been at a task or at beating those targets, it’s now. Don’t assume the interviewer will have read those key achievements on your CV either. When you are invited to go through your work history, don’t forget to mention where you shined. This is not the moment to be overly modest.
  4. Not listening to the question: More common than you think. Maybe it’s the nerves taking over or the embarrassment that we didn’t quite hear or understand the question properly, but frequently we don’t stick to answering the question. We go off at tangents or miss the point of the question entirely. Too eager to keep talking and avoid any moments of silence, we just ramble on about something irrelevant. Remember there’s no harm in double checking the question. It also gives you a few extra seconds for your brain to sort out how to best formulate a winning answer.
  5. Vague: Nothing shows up a candidate as being evasive or unprepared than giving a vague answer – it just comes across as waffle. So, the answer here is be specific where you can. If you’re asked about your sales figures, be exact and give precise numbers. If you’re asked about an example of leadership, or where you’ve outperformed somewhere, whatever, take a second or two before you answer and then describe a specific experience. What happened, what did you do and what was the result?
  6. Asking for feedback: What? You mean you had an interview and you didn’t ask for feedback at the end? If the interview was sales related, not doing this is seen as a bit of a blunder. It’s a missed opportunity for two big reasons. Firstly, if the job is in sales, you’re showing that you are demonstrating your closing skills – you’re saying ‘Look, I’m showing you I can close’. Secondly, it can allow the interviewer to share with you any concerns that they may have about you. Don’t think this as a negative. If there are any issues, you can address them and hopefully put their mind at rest. It’s crucial to clear up any misunderstandings.
  7. Thank you: The interview has ended and you’ve gone home. You just have to wait for the company or the recruiter to get back to you to tell you how you did and whether you were successful to get the job or to get through to the next round, right? Wrong. Don’t underestimate good manners. I’d say about 90% of candidates will never send a quick email to thank the interviewer for their time and to reaffirm their interest in the role. Be quick and be sure to send it the same day as the interview. If you applied via a recruiter and don’t have, or can’t find online, the interviewer’s details, ask the recruiter to forward on your message. It will set you apart from most other candidates and above all it shows you’ve good manners.