An interview is the chance to present the very best version of yourself and convince bosses why you're the top person for the job.
In reality, this high-pressure event can induce all kinds of gaffes and bizarre behaviour. Here we share the most common interview mistakes so you know what to avoid on your next job hunt.
Arriving late for an interview is rude and lazy. Just don't do it. Arriving far too early can also count against you – particularly if the interviewer isn't ready - so aim to arrive bang on time or no sooner than 10 minutes before your scheduled slot. Interviewers are human and know that things can go unavoidably wrong sometimes, so if you are running late for whatever reason contact them as soon as possible and aim to give an accurate arrival time.
2. Inappropriate attire
Think you can't go wrong with a smart suit and polished shoes? Think again. While a dark suit is often favoured in the finance industry for example, it could be perceived as stuffy and boring by creative media companies. The key is to dress appropriately for the industry and company you are aiming to work in, so find out what the staff wear and if in doubt, always confirm the dress code in advance.
In every sector it is important to avoid anything revealing or uncomfortable, don't over-accessorize, and ensure clothes are clean and crease-free.
3. Fail to prepare
While you can't prepare for every curveball an interviewer might throw at you, certain questions always come up so you'll just come across as slack and incompetent if you don't have answers ready. Brush up on honest and succinct replies to common questions such as "What are you strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in ten years? What can you bring to the company that nobody else can? Why do you want the job?"
4. Forget to research
Attending an interview without knowing key facts and recent news about the company can lead to embarrassing moments that make you look disinterested and unprepared. "Show the employer that you are familiar with what the company does by scouring the website and tracking its performance in financial news publications," advises Emma Rourke, senior account manager at JAM Recruitment. "Display a genuine interest in the business and try to reference a recent development that interested you."
5. No questions
Interviews often end with an invitation to ask questions about the job or company and failing to have any ready can appear impassive. Employers want to see if candidates can think on their feet and are interested in the position as much as possible. "It's a good idea to memorise some pertinent questions before the interview," suggests Rourke. "These could be about the company, the role itself, or even how they see you fitting into their success plans."
6. Beeping phone
Forgetting to turn your phone off is an obvious yet very common mistake. Nothing is ruder or more annoying than your phone ringing during an interview and it could make you memorable for the wrong reasons.
7. Salary talk
Salary may be a key factor in your job decision but asking about it too early in the application process can make you appear more concerned about money than the job itself. "Raising remuneration too early is very inappropriate and can signal alarm bells to a recruiter," says Clive Davis, director of financial recruitment specialists, Robert Half. "The subject will inevitably come up but let the interviewer raise it, which will usually happen in a second interview." Once the issue is raised, you can then ask whether it is negotiable and what benefits come with the job.
8. Slips of the tongue
Nervous chatter is common in interviews and can lead to all sorts of slip-ups if you are not careful. It is easy to say the wrong thing, infer the wrong idea, blurt out a profanity or share a little too much personal information. A slip of the tongue can throw an otherwise good interview completely off-course, so try to remain calm and think before you speak. "Don't feel you have to respond immediately," says Davies. "A pause of a couple of seconds is fine if it means you come up with a better, more thoughtful, response."
It is a rare CV that doesn't contain the odd exaggeration, but a downright lie in job applications is a big no-no. Interviews may see right through your lies and if not, will feel angry and cheated if the truth surfaces later. Honesty shows integrity and an interviewer will respect you for telling the truth, especially if it is regarding a difficult issue such as redundancy or disagreement with a previous employer.
However, don't share too much truth and remain positive about past experiences. "If an employer asks why you want to leave your current job, whatever your true feelings, don't say it's because you hate it," says Rourke. "This will show you in a negative light and hint that you can be a difficult person to get along with."
10. Giving demands
No one likes a diva and making demands in an interview is a sure-fire way to blow your chances. Even if you have reached a professional status that enables you to make certain demands in the workplace, the interview is not the place for it. Employers want compromising and amiable staff, not drama queens with a sense of entitlement.
Equally, keep your confidence in check. "It is good to be confident but never assume that you have a job in the bag," warns Davis. "Arrogance could ruin your chances at a role you are otherwise perfect for."