6 common interview errors – and how to avoid them

  1. Death by Monosyllables: a drama in just one word. Yes, no, and maybe are not complete answers. There are times in life when a certain brevity is a good thing, but a job or college interview is not one of those times. The onus is on you to elaborate in a way that helps the interviewer select you for the role. “They didn’t ask me good questions” is no excuse: you must take the questions they ask, and expand on them in such a way that it shows your suitability for the role. It can be difficult to talk yourself up, but you really must: in the history of job interviews, nobody has ever come in and made a case for the previous candidate. It’s up to you to make it happen.
  2. Failure to apply your experience, interests, and training to the role for which you’re being interviewed. It is very important to talk about previous roles – but don’t just stop there: apply what you’ve learned along the way to the role now up for grabs. When you get into that area, you’re talking about what matters most to the interviewer, and you can get their heads nodding. So get close to the role, outline how you would bring your experience to bear in it. In short, let them see you in the role.
  3. Failure to dress properly. This can often happen with ‘informal’ interviews. “Oh, call in for a chat some day you’re in town” is a low-key invitation, but, if it’s about a job, you should treat that meeting seriously. In all job-seeking situations, you must show yourself to be professional, and you must show that you are according this role the status it deserves. No-one ever regretted dressing up well for an interview: many regretted not doing so.
  4. Ignorance about the company. If you haven’t done your research on the company, they will cop it. Employers are very sensitive to this, and they won’t appreciate it if they feel you have just sauntered in without a moment’s homework. It’s their money you’re hoping to snag: the least they expect from you is sufficient interest to know what the company does, where its key markets are, what recent innovations it has announced, what challenges it faces, and the like. The converse is that when you have done your homework, you feel confident and assured, and those are important factors in interviews.
  5. Too much modesty. This is related to No. 1 above. The point here is that if you have attributes and skills the company needs, you should communicate them clearly and directly. You don’t have to brag. You don’t have to drone on about them. But you must relay them. If you don’t, the interviewer may never know you have them. So if you’re a shy, modest type of person, just grin and bear it. Go in there and let them you’ve got the stuff. Chances are if you are modest, you will never be able to make yourself appear arrogant, so don’t worry about crossing the line. And, remember, the successful candidate won’t be behind the door about outlining their virtues.
  6. A mixum-gatherum of errors. Failure to turn up on time. Phone rings during the interview. Indifference and disinterest: just going through the motions. Arriving too early can even be a problem, causing them to wonder what they’re going to do with this person hanging around in the corridor for 90 minutes, chatting with other candidates and generally upsetting the flow. Talking down previous employers. Showing too much concern for the holiday arrangements. Not knowing what’s in your CV. Lies being uncovered in your CV. Passing derogatory remarks about the company. And, trust us, that kind of thing does go on.


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