How to avoid common interview mistakes

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Being called for an interview after you’ve applied for a job means you’re one step closer to your next career move. But you’re not quite there yet. How you perform in the interview is likely to mean the difference between getting the job and not being successful.

Make sure you avoid these five mistakes job seekers commonly make. 


1.  Not doing enough research

Researching a company you’re applying to will take time, but you must be prepared to invest the time needed if you want to perform well in the interview. In our experience, some job seekers don’t do this thoroughly enough. 

It’s really important that you can speak confidently and intelligently about what your potential employer does. You should know specific facts about the organisation, including:

It’s really important that you can speak confidently and intelligently about what your potential employer does.

  • Their history, financial position, mission and products/services
  • The market in which they operate
  • Their main competitors

2.  Not being specific in your answers

You’re almost certainly going to be asked why you want the role or why you want to work for the particular company or organisation. When you’re asked this, you should give a specific reply and not talk in vague terms about why you’d like any job in this sector or industry. If can’t explain clearly why you’d like this job, you will put off employers. 

Instead, you should be enthusiastic and speak specifically about the aspects of the organisation that appeal to you, such as its products or reputation, or the key responsibilities of the role.

3.  Not knowing your CV in detail

You don’t have to know every word of your CV off by heart, but you do have to be comfortable talking about what you’ve done, what you achieved and why you moved on. 

Don’t assume that just because the information is in your CV, interviewers won’t ask questions about your background, including your responsibilities in previous roles and educational results. 

So make sure you review your CV before your interview and practice how you will respond to any potential questions about the details you’ve provided. Most importantly, make sure that you can articulate how your accomplishments to date relate to the role you are applying for.

4.  Criticising previous employers or role

No matter how tempting it is, it’s not a good idea to make derogatory remarks about your current boss, previous boss, current employer or companies you’ve worked for in the past.  It’s fine to talk about that with your friends but not when you’re trying to persuade an employer to hire you. 

They won’t know the background to why you and your current or past employers don’t see eye to eye and you could also open yourself up to an uncomfortable line of questioning. 

Try to find the positive aspects of your employment history and focus on these instead.

5.  Being too relaxed in the interview

Don’t fall into the trap of being too familiar with your interviewer/s, no matter how relaxed you may feel.  An interview is one of the more formal work situations you’re likely to encounter and being familiar and joking around are unlikely to help you get the job. 

It’s important for you to be friendly and engaging and to demonstrate your interpersonal skills, but you must be professional at all times, even if you feel you have a good rapport with the interviewer.

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