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Common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

Common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

Sweaty palms, racing pulse, nerves going haywire.

Sound familiar? These are the symptoms for many when attending job interviews.

Common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

It is perfectly normal to be nervous for an interview, and many employers will forgive a few slip ups or stumbles, but there are a few common interview mistakes that can and should be avoided.

Mistake #1: Not being able to think of a response

You've rehearsed for hours but then when it comes down to the quesiton being asked, you fumble and forget your answer. If you find yourself facing a ‘brain freeze', all is not lost.

Try these strategies to collect your thoughts and get your words rolling again:

  • Ask the interviewer to clarify the question. This will provide precious time to regroup
  • Ask for time to think. There’s nothing wrong with requesting a few seconds to consider the question and formulate an answer. In fact, a good employer will respect that you’re taking the interview seriously and thinking before you speak
  • If you’re still drawing a blank, be honest and ask if you can come back to the question later.

Mistake #2: Calling the interviewer by the wrong name

This may seem mortifying but it's best to acknowledge what you've done, apologise for the error, and chalk it up to the nervousness and excitement about the opportunity, and move on.

Mistake #3: Not knowing enough about the company

Employers will be looking for sound company knowledge and for good reason. Taking the time to understand the company before you arrive shows you have a true interest in the job - not just making it through the interview.

Mistake #4: Talking negatively about a previous employer

Even if you feel unappreciated in your current role, or things with your last employer did not end on good terms, now is not the right time to go on about it. Instead try ‘there was a difference of opinion’ or ‘I didn’t think I would be able to grow further'.

Mistake #5: Forgetting to silence your cell phone

Silencing your phone should be priority but with so much on your mind, it’s understandable that you may have forgotten. If this happens, act fast to silence the ringer, and whatever you do, don’t answer it! Immediately apologise for the interruption and pick up right where you left off. I bet you’ll never forget to turn your phone off again!

Mistake #6: Inappropriate attire

Seventy-five percent of the 501 hiring managers polled by Adecco, Australia's leading human resource company, said the worst mistake applicants make is wearing inappropriate attire. You can never be too overdressed for an interview, so if unsure it’s always best to err on the side of caution with traditional, professional wear.

Mistake #7: Not asking any questions

Prepare a few insightful questions ahead of time. If they happen to get answered naturally during the course of the interview, try asking them again with a different spin. If you don’t ask any questions, most employers will see this as a sign that you’re not all that interested in the position, and you just want to leave as quickly as possible.

Mistake #8: Weak closing statement

In most interviews, the candidate has a chance to deliver a closing statement. This is a priceless opportunity to get in the last word and leave the interviewer with a favourable impression of you. As the conversation wraps up, restate your strong interest in the position, touch on why you think you’re a great fit, and ask about the next steps in the hiring process. Don’t forget to ask for the interviewer’s business card so you can follow up with a thank-you email.

We’re our own toughest critics and it’s common to come out of an interview and automatically over analyse all answers. Even a confident professional with over thirty years’ experience doesn’t come out of an interview thinking they answered every question perfectly. Take time to reflect and consider what you could do better next time, but don’t dwell on the negatives.

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