It’s not just nerves that can shake an interview. Classic interview mistakes include acting arrogantly or being overly emotional, talking too much or refusing to answer certain questions.
A survey by Generation Success found there are seven “job interview crimes”. Let’s look at them one by one.
1. Turning up late
Your car broke down. The trains were delayed. Your grandma was rushed to emergency. Whatever your reason for being late, it will never be good enough; being on time is interview etiquette 101. If you know you’re going to be unavoidably held up, phone the interviewer before you get there, humbly explain your situation and ask if it’s possible to reschedule at a convenient time. While not ideal, it will make a better first impression than leaving them waiting on you and letting them get annoyed for wasting their time.
2. Not researching the company
If you’ve ever been tripped up in an interview by a seemingly innocent question like, ‘So, what do you know about what we do here?’ you’ll know the importance of doing your research. Google the company for recent news and familiarise yourself with the organisation’s website, company history, divisions, mission statement and social media accounts. Make notes and review them just before the interview to ensure you go in fully prepared.
3. Bad-mouthing your former employer
While you may be eager to paint an honest picture about why you left a particular company, speaking negatively about a former employer can backfire if your interviewer knows your ex-manager or co-workers. What’s more, an employer is always looking for signs that they could work with you, and how mature you would be about handling professional conflict. Blaming others’ incompetence or commenting on how badly you were treated in your last role may simply reflect badly on you, and leave the employer wondering if it would be too much of a risk to hire you.
4. Poor mobile phone etiquette
It seems obvious that you would switch your mobile phone off and stash it in your bag during an interview, right? Unfortunately, our increasing need to treat our phones like ‘adult pacifiers’, as one researcher puts it, is making its way into the interview room – and recruiters warn this is to a job-seeker’s detriment. In fact, answering your phone, replying to a text or keeping the ringer on during an interview is a huge deal-breaker for 60 per cent of hiring managers, according to research conducted by CareerBuilder. Keep it by your side at your own risk.
5. Asking about perks
Tempting as it is to enquire about holiday entitlements and the salary range of the role, experts are unanimous on this one: if you’re not going through a recruiter, don’t raise this in the first interview. Ideally, the topic of money and entitlements should come up towards the end of the second interview, although it’s not uncommon to have to wait until you’re almost at the hiring stage for perks to be discussed in detail.
6. Boasting about the interview on social media
You had a great interview – but the worst thing you can do now is go to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and boast about it or post a revealing update to your friends. CareerBuilder’s survey found that two out of five employers browse social networks to research a potential candidate – with 65 per cent admitting they do it to assess how professionally a candidate presents him or herself online. You have no idea who will be browsing your online accounts after the interview either, so save your updates to share in person.
7. Not following up
This one is an innocent but sometimes serious interview mistake. You may think that you’ll look desperate or come across like a bit of a pest if you follow up after an interview – but nothing could be further from the truth. Time-poor interviewers may see a number of candidates and a prompt thank-you email can not only help you remain uppermost in their mind, but keep you in the running for other positions if it turns out you’re not quite right for this one. And don’t forget to ask at the end of the interview about expectations, such as when they’ll be contacting candidates. If they told you to expect an update by a certain date that’s now passed, a polite, friendly follow-up email is essential.