Avoiding Common Interview Mistakes

  | James Innes

There are some interview mistakes which candidates make time and again, regardless of the company, position, country or level of seniority. However, well prepared you are for an interview, it can happen. C’est la vie. If you make a mistake, it doesn’t have to be the end of your chances of getting the job, if you think on your feet.

·       Being late. Turning up late for an interview gives the worst possible impression to an interviewer. Of course, the best way to avoid this is to leave plenty of time to get there but, sometimes, delays happen. Public transport fails or the road is blocked by an accident. If this happens, contact the interviewer straight away, let them know the situation and take it from there. A sympathetic interviewer will understand, and let you reschedule for later or another day.

·       Saying the wrong thing. Sometimes due to nerves or the pressure of the interview, a candidate can say the wrong thing, or answer a question incorrectly. If this is the case, stop, apologise to the interviewer, take a deep breath and start again. Don’t make the situation worse by rambling on and getting yourself into more deep water.

·       Not knowing the answer to a question. If you don’t know the answer to a question, there are several tactics. Buy yourself a little time by asking the interviewer to repeat or rephrase the question, or ask for clarification. This may enable you to give a plausible answer, even if not one the questioner was expecting! If all else fails, say the truth – you don’t know. The interviewer will, at least, appreciate your honesty. Never guess or worse lie. You will get caught out and the interview may be beyond salvage at that point.

·       Failing to make eye contact. Whilst you may be nervous, try and make eye contact with the interviewer. To do otherwise implies meekness or, worse, dishonesty. Try and muster up a firm handshake as well. Nobody likes a weak wrist or sweaty palm.

·       Stop slouching: A poor posture in an interview can, literally, cost you the job. Body posture conveys a great deal about an applicant’s personality, so don’t slouch, swings your legs, or cross your arms defensively across your chest. Sit up straight, with your legs slightly apart and your hands resting on your thighs. You may be nervous inside but give the impression you are relaxed and controlled.

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By paying attention to these basics, you can avoid making the type of interview mistakes that are so common. Mistakes happen, particularly when you are in a pressure situation like an interview. It is how you recover from them which will leave you still standing when others have fallen by the wayside.

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