30 Interview Mistakes to avoid or risk losing your job offer

Attending an interview can be a very exciting and very nervous time. What you ask and how you behave will greatly impact the decision to hire you. Below are 30 insider tips that blow away some of the myths regarding what you should ask, say, or do during an interview.

1.     Talking negatively about your current or former employer:

Interviewees, from my experience, will speak negatively to elicit sympathy and use talking negatively about their employer to create the impression it was a horrible place to work. Simply put, speaking negatively is a tactic to get the recruiter on their side to understand why they are leaving.  

A recruiter is looking for someone that will fit well with the team and the culture. They are looking for someone that is positive and will speak well about them. Talking negatively creates the impression you will speak badly about the business; it creates the impression that you have adaption issues and that you will speak negatively about your co-workers. 

2.     Talking politics or discussing a controversial news story:

It is important to build rapport early. However, discussing contentious issues like politics, religion, or news will typically not help. My advice avoid discussing anything that may seem controversial.

3.     Speaking negatively about protected characteristics:

Employers want employees that are inclusive, supportive, and welcoming of diversity. Each country defines protected characteristics differently. The UK they are defined in the Equality Act and in the USA it is Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Typically, protected characteristics will cover race, religion, disability, age, sex / gender, pregnancy and marital status.

4.     Not knowing about the company:

As a part of your application and interview preparation take time to research the company. If you are applying to a SME (Small Medium Enterprise) it is difficult to find information about the company and the only source, will likely be their website. Possibly a news story in the local paper. Most recruiters for small SMEs will understand if your knowledge about their business is not detailed.

However, if your interview is with a public body or a corporation then there is a plethora of information available. Therefore, the expectation will be that you have some knowledge of the company for non-manager roles. For manager roles, you will also be expected to understand some of the broader challenges the company may face.

5.     Not knowing about the job description

The worst thing you can do is going to the interview without knowing what is on the job description.

6.     Discussing pay & benefits

If the recruiter asks you, what is your pay expectation then it is acceptable to answer.  However, if you are not asked during the interview then wait until the offer to ask your questions.

7.     Being resistant to performing parts of the job

Recruiters will bring up less glamourous parts of the job, like asking about asking your feelings about working late, weekends, or working a shift pattern. The reason for asking, it is because staff in the past may have raised issues or have a turn-over because of the working condition. They are also, asking because they are testing you to see if you will have an issue with that condition and to see if you have read the job description.

If you have a protected characteristic, see #3, then you can raise regarding the question. However, if you don’t have a protected characteristic that relates to the question then providing an incongruent (body language shows resistant, but you state it is agreeable) message or showing resistance will work against you.

8.     Unless you have a protected characteristic, as defined by your country’s equality laws, that will be impacted by the working hours or job requirements then avoid discussing them.

If you have a protected characteristic, see #3, then will be impacted by the stated working hours then raise it. Otherwise, asking for a change in working hours during the interview will not be beneficial. This could be discussed if an offer is made.

9.     Going off topic

Recruiters know people are nervous. If you notice you are going off topic, stop, think, and if you forgot the question ask the recruiter to repeat the question. However, if you do not bring yourself back to the topic and continue, it will demonstrate a lack of communication skills.

10. Criticizing the job or the company

During the interview, avoid any question or response that appears to criticize the company or the job.

11. Taking a call during the interview

Recruiters are human. They have a family and a life outside of work. Also, they know you have a life too and others that depend on you. Nonetheless, during the interview they expect your full attention. This means for the time you are interviewing your phone should be turned off.

12. Looking at your phone during the interview

It may be fun to look at who is doing what or following a news story. Just like in #11 the recruiter expects your full attention. Looking at your phone during the interview will not help you succeed in the interview.

13. Asking if the company will pay for taxis to take you to and from work.

Travelling to and from work can be expensive, especially if you must pay to park. In most cases, business will not pay for cabs to work. If you need transport to work it is best to find it yourself and then try to negotiate extra pay to cover the additional expense. 

14. I have covered it on my resume

Your recruiter will expect an answer to their question. Saying, “I have covered it on my resume,” shows a lack of interest in the role.

15. Parties that the company provides for its employees

This question may create the impression you are only interested in the job because of parties or it can create you have a drinking issue. Either way, it demonstrates a lack of interest in the role.

16. How soon can you have time off?

Best to leave this question when an offer is made.

17. Using profanity

Even if the company has a reputation for a casual work environment. Nonetheless, recruiters expect a certain decorum during the interview.

18. Using buzzwords or jargon

One area that the recruiter is looking at is your ability to communicate. Sometimes, recruiters do it all day and may not know your area. Other times the recruiter may work in the field they are recruiting but may use different terminology. By using buzzwords or industry jargon they create a barrier for understanding.  It is better to use plain and concise English to answer the questions. Thereby avoiding buzzwords and jargon to ensure a mutual understanding.

19. Pointless or too many stories

Stories are a great way to build rapport, to demonstrate your understanding of the question by demonstrating an experience but stories can be problematic. Stories become problematic when they are pointless, you ramble, or you use too many stories. Before going into an interview, it is best to prepare by reviewing stories you want to use and then tailor the story to fit the question.

20. Apologetic

Recruiters want to hire people who are confident. Being apologetic can come across as lacking confident, especially if you are continuously apologising.

21. Appearing unprepared or disorganised

This one regards both how you dress and how you respond. It is important to present a clean professional image. Likewise, when responding to a question it is concise and in line with the job description. No being prepared or looking disorganised will work against in an interview situation.

22. Arriving late or too early

Ideally you should arrive 15 – 20 minutes before the interview. Anything earlier may be arriving too early and may be disruptive for the business. If you feel you may arrive more than 20 minutes before the interview let the business know when they contact, you to arrange the interview

23. Not dressing correctly for the interview

Granted if you are going to interview for a cook at a fast-food restaurant you are not going to dress in a 3-piece suit and tie. However, if you are interviewing for a mid-level manager in a corporation’s accounting department you are not going to show up in tennis shoes, torn jeans and t-shirt. When attending an interview, you need to dress for the role and look professional.

24. Body language that shows a lack of interest

Sitting in the job interview looking a way with arms crossed, for example, will not communicate interest. In order to get hired will require that you show interest and enthusiasm for the company.

25. Rambling

We all get nervous and there is nothing wrong to ask for the question to be repeated. The problem becomes, when you ramble. Rambling makes it hard for the recruiter to understand your point and how your experience matches the role.

26. Answering I don’t know

Sometimes stress gets to you during the interview and you are unable to answer the question. In an interview it is ok to ask for a question to be repeated or ask to come back to it. The worst thing you can say is, ‘I don’t know.’ By saying, ‘I don’t know,’ means the recruiter cannot understand how your skills match the role and it makes it nearly impossible to offer a role when you cannot demonstrate how you meet the requirements.

27. Cutting the interview short

If you need to leave early, then it is better to cancel or asking for a different time.

28. Fidgeting with items

Keeping your hands busy can sometimes alleviate anxiety. However, fidgeting with items during an interview can be distracting and make it very difficult for the recruiter to understand you.

29. Being confrontational

Being confrontation comes in different forms. Sometimes body language can be confrontation, such as leaning forward or tone can be confrontation. Always try to be relaxed and at ease.

30. Trying to control the interview

The interview is for the recruiter to understand your job history, experience, and how you will fit into the team. It is not the time for you to take control of the interview. Follow the lead of the recruiter and ask questions when it is appropriate.

Attending an interview can be a very exciting and very nervous time. What you ask and how you behave will greatly impact the decision to hire you. Below are 30 insider tips that blow away some of the myths regarding what you should ask, say, or do during an interview.


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Author: admin
Before moving to the United Kingdom, I worked in the U.S.A as a supply teacher who primarily taught math and taught at alternative education sites (e.g. juvenille detention, behaviour classrooms, and sites for students that were court ordered).When I moved to United Kingdom I chose to draw on my adaptive software skills knowledge. Whereby I developed administration and IT skills. Through my hard work I progressed into a senior health care manager role.I have several years experience in interviewing, reviewing applications and managing a team. Drawing on my experiences, I have created this site to help you.

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