The progression from being one of many job applicants to a select few job candidates is no easy feat. For the top creative roles, the hiring process can often take weeks, if not months at a time, meaning interview preparation gets left on the back burner. But what you do in the time between being offered an interview and actually getting there can make all the difference to your chances of success. After all, you don't want your interview to be over before it’s even begun!
At Vitamin T, we've interviewed over 1 million candidates for jobs all around the world, so we've seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly when it comes to interview mistakes. If you've ever wondered where an unsuccessful job interview went wrong, read on for our ultimate list of top five interview mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Failing to prepare
The number one interview mistake that we see candidates making time and time again is failing to prepare. "What do you know about our company?" is a popular interview question that's easy to get right – but only if you've done your homework beforehand. A brilliant job application might bag you the interview, but a lack of preparation will soon become obvious when you can't answer a simple, open-ended question about the organisation you're hoping to work for.
To avoid this blunder, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to swot up on the company itself. Most businesses will have an 'About Us' page, which can give you a useful introduction. You should also research the company's social media accounts (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), blogs or newsletters. This can give you a feel for who they are, what they stand for, and what they are trying to achieve.
2. Showing off and overselling
Despite what The Apprentice might have you believe, bragging about your skills to the point of arrogance is not the best way to conduct yourself in a serious job interview. People with strong personalities might try, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to control the interview, but there's a very fine line between confidence and arrogance.
Avoid showing off and over-selling yourself. The majority of hiring managers will favour an interviewee who is self-aware; someone who can admit their weaknesses and show their willingness to learn and develop, over someone who oversells themselves in a way that might come across as arrogant and disingenuous.
3. Turning up late
This one is a big no-no in any professional environment, but especially for an an interview. First impressions are everything in the working world and turning up late implies that you are disorganised and unable to manage your time properly. Not only that, but hiring managers are busy people – turning up late shows a lack of respect for them, the company and the job itself.
To avoid this major interview mistake, try a test-run of your route to the company a few days prior at around the time your interview will be. This will reduce the chances of you getting lost and give you an idea of what to expect traffic wise. On the day of your interview, make sure to arrive around 5–10 minutes early. This will not only show that you're eager and well organised, but will also give you a little bit of breathing space to compose yourself and manage your nerves.
4. Badmouthing current or past employers
Badmouthing your current/past employers and co-workers is a sure-fire way to come across as a negative, critical person with a bad attitude. No employer will want to hire someone who is difficult to get along with, which is the exact impression you'll give by talking excessively about other people's ineptitude.
Sometimes, you might be faced with challenging questions such as "Have you ever worked with someone you didn't like?" This might seem to elicit a negative response, but instead of badmouthing others, try and focus on what the issue was, how you dealt with it and what solution you came to.
5. Not asking questions
If you don't have any questions to ask at the end of your interview, you're running the risk of coming across as unprepared (see interview mistake #1), lazy and disinterested. A good interview should be a two-sided conversation; its not only the employer's chance to get to know you, but your chance to get to know them, and the job, a little better.
To avoid this common interview mistake, make sure you have a couple of interchangeable questions in your head before you get to the interview. That way, even if one of your questions is answered within the interview itself, you'll still have a few to fall back on. If you're stuck, asking questions about the company culture or how the job became available are good standby options that will show your interest in not only the job itself, but the company as a whole.