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Six common mistakes made in interview (and how to avoid them)

It’s said that 33 per cent of recruiters know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether someone is right for the role. Experienced hiring managers meet lots of different types of people, so they can gather an accurate impression fairly quickly. While some mistakes can be put down to nerves, others are less easy to retract. After successfully securing an interview, it’s important to make the most of this opportunity. These are just a few of the things we’d advise candidates to avoid.

You’re not sure why you want the job

Always anticipate the obvious questions and prepare your answers accordingly. At some point during your interview, you will be asked ‘why do you want the job?’ Watch out for this opportunity to demonstrate your desire for the role, even if it’s not immediately obvious – as questions may be phrased in different ways. Your response here is likely to be a real deal breaker for hiring managers looking for excited and enthusiastic candidates. So, if you weren’t sure about the job when you filled out the application form, make sure you are by the time your interview day comes around. Be ready with a detailed response which genuinely outlines why you’re attracted to the company, how the position fits your skillset, and how it will aid you in your future career progression. 

Responding with cliched answers

As we’ve said, hiring managers read a lot of CVs and conduct many interviews. It’s likely that they’ve seen and heard it all, so try to avoid clichés. Steer clear of commonly used phrases, for example describing yourself as a ‘team player’, a ‘perfectionist’ or someone who ‘enjoys working with people’. Of course, these things may be true, but if you’re able to talk about your experiences using real-life examples, you’ll come across as someone who is self-aware and genuine. Nobody is perfect, so think about examples where you’ve struggled (and learnt from this) or successfully solved a challenge. These kinds of responses will give interviewers a greater insight into who you are as a person, including your strengths, motivations and career goals.

Underselling or overselling yourself

Getting a balance in interview can be tricky, and many candidates struggle with appearing overconfident or underconfident. While it’s important to sell your CV, including your experience and top qualities, failing to acknowledge weaknesses can make you seem arrogant. On the flip side of the coin, you can’t expect interviewers to know everything that you’re capable of. While you may have demonstrated this on the job, you still need to provide enough information to convince someone new that you have the right abilities. If you’re likely to undersell yourself, take time to think about your key achievements to date – committing these to memory so that you can mention them. 

Being afraid to ask for clarification

Many applicants are reluctant to ask for clarification when they don’t understand a question. Your main aim is to impress, but if you don’t know what the interviewer is looking for, you won’t be able to give the right answer. During an interview, many people feel as though they need to respond straight away. Our advice is to take time to think, and don’t be afraid to communicate with the panel when you need a further explanation. Of course, they can’t tell you what to say, but they can help by repeating or re-phrasing the question. If you’re in a job and you don’t know something, it’s best to ask – and the same applies here. This will give you the best chance of establishing a real rapport with hiring managers.

Discussing money too soon

While salary is important, there’s a time and a place for discussing this. Talking about money too soon can give the impression that this is your only focus. It can also seem overconfident if you’re already assuming that you’ll be chosen as the top candidate. Ideally, it’s best not to mention wages until you’ve been offered the role. This is the point at which you can discuss terms and conditions before signing your new contract. Applicants should also apply this rule to benefits packages. While they might be mentioned in the job advert, and employers might talk about work perks at interview, it’s best to concentrate your efforts on understanding the company you’re applying for and the role available. Ask about the team and career opportunities instead of annual bonus schemes. 

Failing to ask your own questions

At the end of the interview, hiring managers will always ask you if you have any further questions. Although it’s nearly the end of the meeting, don’t underestimate the importance of this part of the process. This is your final chance to make an impression by showing that you’ve listened to the conversation so far and are able to respond to points made. While it’s best to come with a list of pre-prepared questions, it can be difficult if all of these have been answered during conversation – so try to think outside the box. Why not ask hiring managers what they most enjoy about working for the company or what they’re most proud of? This can be a good way to end the interview, as well as to get to know the person you could be working for. 

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 we opened our first London office, to service Clients and Candidates in the capital.  

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