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There are lots of common job interview mistakes a candidate should avoid. I have been privileged to sit in countless interviews as a panel member/ interviewer in my career. I have learnt a lot of lessons from each job interview but some mistakes stood out and were there in almost every interview sitting.
Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid
- Inadequate Preparation.
- Dressing Up or Down.
- Eye Contact.
- Not Doing Enough for a Promotion.
- Appearing to be Arrogant.
- Not Asking a Question
This is the most important thing to do for any interview. Prepare enough and be ready for any question. Research should be done on the advertising company and the sector to which the company belongs. I have interviewed candidates who are highly qualified and intelligent but know nothing on the company or the sector locally and internationally. A candidate will most likely be asked about the organization, its competition, important strategies, growth, etc. Most of this information is available in the internet, company brochures and annual reports. If you are interested in joining a certain company, make it a habit to read about it from the media, attend their exhibitions and information days, ask them for their annual reports, volunteer as an intern and work hard and make your interest in the organization known. Get information on the sector in general. If it’s a job as a pilot, you will have to have some knowledge on the aviation sector in general. Policies and regulations, a regulating body and how it’s working relationships with the organization. Growth information in the sector and current news in the sector are also important to know. Matching this information with one’s skills, education qualifications and passions will better equip any candidate.
A candidate MUST never be late for a job interview. One must always know the venue and time for the meeting well in advance. When not familiar with the place, it’s advisable to drive there before the day of the interview or get clear directions for getting to the place. Giving some extra 30 minutes to an hour as an allowance should be the norm. Some candidates take too long to answer a straight forward question. Getting straight to the point and giving real life examples will take less time and show the panel you know what you are talking about. Taking too much time in handling questions can be taken as a sign one is very slow in doing their job.
Some people dress in their best suits, which are more suitable for a wedding than a job interview. Being more conservative is much more professional. A dark shade of a suit is still preferable. This may be black, shade of blue or grey. Avoiding the bright and busy colors like flowers and red or yellow groups of colors is advisable. A shirt or top should be plain and simple in neutral and light colors like blue or white. Make up should also be worn in moderation and with a more natural look.
I have experience too firm and too soft handshakes from candidates. There is no right or wrong but appropriate for the certain culture. Some cultures don’t even believe in handshakes at all. Some think firm is aggressive and soft is lazy. Finding out whom your interviewer is and learning a little bit about his or her culture when possible can help. Otherwise try and match her or his handshake.
Slouching in the chair looks very lazy and disrespectful. Sitting upright and leaning a little forward is professional and shows interest. Facing the interviewer and nodding in agreement shows that one is paying attention.
Eye contact can also be a culture issue. In some cultures eye contact could be a sign of disrespect. However, in the absence of known cultural taboos, one should confidently maintain the eye contact with the interviewer. A smile also shows that one is pleasant. I remember a girl we recommended for a position because of a constant smile. She displayed a warm character and was interesting to listen too. A smile also perfects one’s voice.
The internal candidates who are interviewed for a promotion usually do worse that the external ones. The reason is that they assume the interviewer knows their abilities and hard work. However an interview is the platform to sell one’s self. Disregard the knowledge an interviewer has and communicate all important information as you would with a stranger. Be detailed enough even on projects in which your interviewer worked closely with you. It is very difficult to recommend a candidate that performed poorly compared to the rest especially if there are co-interviewers involved. There was a gentleman I know and liked for the position but left out all the important projects he did in the interview. He simply assumed, the panes knows his experience and did not try hard enough to be convincing. He took the shortest time and gave the worst responses. He missed on the promotion and a less experienced and less skilled candidate was appointed.
Sometimes one just knows too much about the position and its job description. They are well-prepared and well qualified. Appearing like a know-it-all candidate shows an aggressive character. This may be shown by trying to correct the interviewer when making technical mistakes about the subject, arguing unnecessarily and making a long list of suggestions for the company. Most mistakes can wait until one is appointed to deal with them.
As much as one prepares to handle question, he or she should prepare the questions to ask the interviewer. You will most likely be given an opportunity to ask a question. A response that one has no question to ask shows the lack of interest and even low intellectual capacity. Every candidate should have an interest in the job enough to want to get more information. You may ask about the job itself for example. Whom a successful candidate will report to, training programs, company growth prospects and expansion, etc. The questions should be prepared and rehearsed.
A candidate may complain about being kept waiting, not being given enough time to prepare or being given bad directions. Sometimes the complain is reasonable but made in a harsh manner. State your concern in a reasonable manner. Keeping on and on about how bad the company has treated you will not get you the job. You may be taken as a difficult candidate with an aggressive nature.
There are a lot more other mistakes like leaving a cell phone on, chewing a gum to relax, dressing in revealing clothing, giving dishonest answers, etc. Try your best and keep it real. This is usually the only opportunity for you to get your dream job.
write by Reginald