We’ve talked a lot about how to prepare for interviews but it’s just as important to make sure you avoid common interview blunders. We never cease to be amazed by stories we hear about some of the rookie errors even the most experienced candidates make at interviews, so we thought we’d bring you our top 10 interview faux pas to avoid at all costs.
1. Never bad mouth your previous employer.
Keep your feelings to yourself, no matter what you actually think about them. When an interviewer asks you to talk about your last/current job, part of what they’re assessing is your ability to be diplomatic. Don’t give them any reason to doubt this.
2. Never answer your phone.
Always make sure your phone is off. If you forget and it does ring, never, ever, answer it. The only exception we can think of is if your wife is likely to go in to labour imminently (and your interviewer has been pre-warned). Avoid all doubt and leave your phone in the car.
3. Be on time.
This should be really simple. Leave plenty of time to ensure you arrive on time. It’s far better to have time to kill from arriving early, than being late and arriving flustered (and potentially sweaty). If you are late then phone ahead and explain the situation, making sure you apologise. Don’t leave it until you’re already late to call – this happens all too often. When you do finally arrive, make sure you apologise profusely and that you have a really good reason – the worst (albeit funny for the wrong reasons) excuse we’ve heard this year is “I was delayed picking up balloons for my Nan”. Really?!
4. Don’t swear.
As with most things on this list, this should be really, really obvious. Even if it is a relaxed interview and your interviewer is using the odd expletive (in the marketing/creative sector, this isn’t unheard of), don’t lower your guard and start doing the same. Remain professional at all times.
5. Resist the pre-interview cigarette.
If first impressions are everything, there’s little worse than a candidate walking in smelling like an ashtray.
6. Never lie.
What can we say about this? The truth will always prevail. Don’t lie about your experience – even an average interviewer will uncover the truth.
7. What are the hours/salary?
Salary, hours and benefits are important. We get that. But ask any expert and they’ll say the same thing: employers want candidates to be interested in the job and the opportunity first and foremost. The last thing you want to do is create the impression that your either work shy or purely in it for the money.
8. Dress appropriately.
You only get a few seconds to make a good first impression, so it’s important to dress appropriately. You want to be remembered for your skills and experience, not for what you were wearing. Better to be over smart, than too casual – even if you’re a designer who usually wears jeans and a t-shirt, there’s no harm putting on a shirt and pair of chinos.
For women, don’t wear anything to tight or too revealing. Equally, avoid overdoing the make-up and jewellery. For example, there’s something very off putting about the constant clanking of bracelets.
For men, avoid those horrid novelty ties or loud patterns and make sure your suit fits (if that’s what you’re wearing) and your clothes are ironed.
9. Make sure you have a valid reason for leaving.
Sometimes things don’t work out and that’s ok. Just make sure you’ve thought about how you articulate your exit from a previous employer. One things for sure, don’t do what one candidate did earlier this year in answering “why did you leave” with “we don’t talk about that, I left under a bit of a cloud”.
10. Don’t be over familiar.
Just as with the point about never swearing, you should avoid falling in to the trap of acting over familiar with your with the person interviewing you. No matter how down to earth the interview is, maintain a professional distance at all times; we’re not saying be cold and stand-offish, just don’t get too personal. For example, we had candidate who the client said “had the job” right up until the point they got too comfortable and started talking about how drunk they got at the Christmas party. Then there was the candidate who after the interview asked if they could use the bathroom to get changed for the gym.