Seven job interview mistakes you don’t want to make

  1. Coming over too familiar. A surplus of premature familiarity tends to be a problem in most arenas, and it is certainly a no-no in job interviews. Be professional. Be warm, but keep your distance. These people are assessing you from a variety of angles, primarily professional. While your personality is an important part of the mix, you should maintain a professional demeanour throughout.
  2. Not knowing enough about the company. “Ye import stuff, computer stuff, isn’t it?” doth not a well-rounded overview of the company make. Find out more about the company. You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to know enough to have an informed conversation. You should also introduce your company knowledge throughout the interview, not merely at the eleventh hour when they put the question to you. In fact, you should exhibit sufficient company knowledge that they don’t actually have to ask that question.
  3. Answering the wrong question. This is more common than you might realise. It might be eagerness to impress, it might be nervousness, but for some reason candidates answer the question that hasn’t been asked. They latch onto one word or phrase in the question and mistakenly pursue that line as the kernel of their answer. There is nothing wrong with deciding to divert a question to somewhere of value to you, but, first and foremost, always answer the question – the exact question – that has been asked.
  4. Silence. This isn’t a police holding cell. Silence incriminates you, as do all her first cousins – Cagey, Wary, Monosyllable and Guarded. In our experience, most people tend to talk too little in interview, so, unless you’re a real blabbermouth, be prepared to push it on a bit. As an aside, Jack Handy, the American comedian, reckons “when you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges.”
  5. Lack of enthusiasm. This happens too. Why? Some people think it unprofessional to show enthusiasm, as if their professional attributes should speak for themselves. I understand where they are coming from but you must convince the employer that you actually want the job, that you’re excited about it, and that you’ll be very disappointed if you don’t get it. In a world where there is a growing awareness of attitude being the most important attribute of candidates, you can’t afford to be come day, go day, in your approach.
  6. Telling lies. A liar needs a good memory. Experienced recruiters have a sixth sense when it comes to finding a hole in a CV or a tall tale in an interview story. There’s no shame in not knowing everything. Many’s the man who left Shannon Airport unskilled and arrived in Kennedy a carpenter, but it’s a nervous way to go. It is more advisable to admit your shortcomings.
  7. Bad-mouthing previous employers. So things didn’t end up great with the last employer bar one, and you’re convinced you had a case for constructive dismissal, but a job interview is not the place to re-hash the row. If you’ve carrying baggage, off-load it long before the interview. It is not a counselling session. The employer cares only what value you will bring to the company and previous mishaps are not their concern. Careers have ups and downs, good and bad relationships, so a blip or two in your past is not the problem – the problem is that you haven’t processed it properly.