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How to avoid job interview mistakes

A job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, however with the right preparation you can ensure you’re the number one candidate on any hiring manager’s list.

Not answering questions directly

Believe it or not a common interview error is failing to answer the interviewer’s question properly by, “not answering the question directly with solid examples or metrics on how they made a difference or (that) demonstrates an achievement,” says Anne-Marie Orrock, Managing Director of Corporate Canary HR Consulting.

To combat this make sure you know your resume inside out. This means having concrete examples of any successes you may have had on the job, or challenges (and how you solved them). Ideally, these should directly relate to the role you’re applying for. Remember you’re there to impress, so illustrate the times that you have gone above and beyond what your position entails; for example the monthly reports you prepared helped identify cost savings for the company.

If you do find yourself struggling to answer an interview question on the spot, don't be afraid to pause for a moment to think about your response. Repeat the question back to the interviewer such as "My greatest accomplishment on the job would have to be..." then launch into your response.

Group of candidates waiting for interview

Being too casual in your approach

Don’t let interview blunders ruin the first impression you make on your interviewer. This means avoiding things such as chewing gum during your interview, making sure your phone is on silent, and standing until you’re invited to sit down (or your interviewer takes a seat).

Also, it goes without saying that swearing is a no-no, so is bad mouthing a previous employer or making discriminatory comments of any nature. It's also best to stay focussed in the interview; avoid telling long personal anecdotes or telling jokes as this can often derail an interview and make you come across as unprofessional. 

Underselling yourself

One of the top job interview mistakes you can make is not selling yourself enough. Don’t underplay yourself – it’s important that the interviewer can see that you’re confident in your value as an employee.

Orrock suggests using the PAR model (Problem, Action, Result) as a good structure to use when highlighting your strengths during an interview; this involves outlining a problem you faced, what you did and what the end result was. “Be clear about what your strengths are. Ask others you have worked with or family and friends. Ask them how they experience those strengths so you have plenty of examples to give the interviewer.”

This is also a great time to raise any qualifications you may have attained or achievements whilst studying. By doing this you will demonstrate your commitment to your own personal and professional development by the fact you decided to undertake further study and were able to successfully complete your studies.

Failing to ask any questions

Having a list of well thought out questions to ask your interviewer demonstrates you’re interested in the role and have genuinely given it some consideration. Great questions to ask can include enquiring about the company culture or what success would look like in the role you’re applying for. Avoid asking just the basics such as what the hours or dress code is as this fails to effectively convey your level of interest and commitment to the role.

Looking for more tips on how to get interview-ready? We can help you prepare for a job interview, as well as answer difficult interview questions – good luck!