7 Ways To Screw Up Your Interview

Career Development

Lots of advice that is categorised as “Job Interview Tips” should really filed under “Tips For Not Being Rude, Foolish, and Generally Clueless.” Read these 7 interview tips that WILL help you.

If you’ve made it to the point of interviewing for a job, chances are, you know to arrive ten minutes early and to dress appropriately for the company culture. If you still need to be reminded of this, you might be beyond our help. But if you already know the basics of not messing up big at your interview and want a few more tips on how to avoid big pitfalls, read on!

1. Not Knowing Your Hiring Manager

Far too many candidates go into interviews knowing the company with which they’re interviewing back and forth, up and down but not having a clue about the person in front of them asking the questions. With social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter and company websites with easy-to-find staff bios, it is easier than ever to figure out who you’ll be talking to and prepare to speak to their particular interests and role in the company.

2. Coming With Answers But No Ideas

You may have your elevator pitch down and know how to talk about your weaknesses (or development areas!) in a way that doesn’t sabotage your chances, but do you have fresh ideas for what you’ll do with the role? You don’t need to come into the interview ready to remake the department but having some vision for what you’ll do in the job is critical to standing apart from the competition.

3. You’re Defensive About Your Work History

It is a hiring manager’s job to ask about gaps in your work history or if you’re changing industries. They aren’t looking to catch you doing something wrong, they just want to know what you’ve been up to that has brought you to now. Being defensive about your decisions or being excessively verbose in your explanations will make you look unsure of yourself, that you are telling a fib and seem like you have less certainty and direction. You don’t want to leave your interview with the hiring manager feeling perplexed and confused.

4. You Focus Too Much on Your Next Job

Hiring managers love to know that you want to stay at a company long enough to be promoted, but if you ask too many questions about mobility within the firm or how long people usually stay in the job you’re interviewing for, it signals that you’re not entirely focused on the current job. It’s great to be keen on progression, but this needs to be in moderation and you need to be realistic on the timescales.

5. You Don’t Refer to the Job Description

Lots of candidates ask about the company culture and the typical day, but forget that they are being interviewed for a set of very specific tasks. Directly referring to the set of tasks that appeared in the original job description signals to the hiring manager that you’re thinking about the job at hand and how well you can do it for them, which is going to be key to deciding whether or not you’re the best fit.

6. You Don’t Ask Original Questions

Everyone knows to come prepared with questions for their interviewer. Not everyone knows that, “What do you like about working here?” is a bit of a tired one. You can certainly ask it as a matter of being friendly and personable but if you fail to ask original and engaging questions about the job, you miss an opportunity for your critical thinking about the position to stand out. Have questions prepared that refer to both your interview so they have a chance to talk about their work and about how they envision your potential role working within the company. Then you can ask about the culture.

7. You Disappear After the Interview

A follow up email is always appropriate, even if the hiring manager says that they’ll be in touch with more information. You should proactively reach out to thank them for their time and include both a reiteration of your enthusiasm about the job based on something you discussed in the interview and a question for them. By asking a question, you keep them engaged with your candidacy and let them know that you were thinking more about the job even after you walked out the door, making them more likely to invite you back in. This is a great way to stand out from other candidates who may not have done this! But don’t turn into a stalker!

Andy Selway is the Founder of ‘Your HR Consultancy’ which provides HR & people solutions to start-ups and SMEs. Andy also runs Corporate and Cocktails, which is fast becoming one of London’s biggest growing HR communities with over 1,700 HR members.