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Top 10 Things Not to Do in an Interview

9 months ago by James Morey
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​Job interviews are a crucial steppingstone on the path to professional success. They provide a platform for you to showcase your skills, experience, and personality to potential employers.

Only 2% of candidates who apply for a job are selected for interview, with many companies inviting an average of 6 or more people for interview, so if you have been selected for interview, well done! The next stage is how to prepare to excel in your interview.

However, just as there are ‘right’ ways to excel in an interview, there are plenty of ways you could accidently sabotage your chances of being hired. In this week’s blog, we'll delve into the ten things you should avoid doing during an interview, to increase your odds of landing that dream job you deserve.

One important thing to mention is that different people might have different needs, that can be recognised and adjusted for during the interview process. 

If you need extra support for your interview, for example, to adjust for neurodiversity, being open with the recruiter you are working with about what you might need, can allow for a more comfortable interview. Having the interviewer know in advance can also tackle unconscious bias. 

1. Arriving unprepared

Attending an interview without researching the company, its culture, and the role you're applying for is a recipe for disaster. Employers want to see your enthusiasm and genuine interest in their organisation. A lack of preparation shows disinterest and can lead to a prompt rejection.

If your interview is virtual, there are a number of things that could catch you out.

  • Having your camera switched off doesn’t look good. Switch it on – your future employer will want to see your face and engagement.

  • Going to a coffee shop can hamper your success. Find a quiet place where you won’t get disturbed.

  • Being late for a virtual interview can reflect badly on you if you don’t have software downloaded beforehand. Make sure you can access the interview links in advance e.g. Zoom, Teams, Google Meet etc…

2. Dressing inappropriately

Your attire speaks volumes about your professionalism and respect for the interview process. Dressing too casually or too formally can send the wrong message, so always opt for attire that aligns with the company's culture and industry norms.

3. Being late

Punctuality is non-negotiable. Arriving late not only creates a negative first impression but also suggests a lack of time-management skills. Aim to arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time.

4. Neglecting body language

Your body language can convey confidence, enthusiasm, or nervousness. Avoid fidgeting, slouching, lack of eye contact, and crossing your arms, as these gestures can undermine your credibility and confidence.

5. Talking excessively

While you want to showcase your skills, dominating the conversation can come across as self-centred. Let the interviewer guide the discussion, and ensure your answers are concise, relevant, and tailored to the question.

6. Badmouthing former employers

Speaking negatively about past employers, colleagues, or experiences reflects poorly on your attitude and professionalism. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your career journey.

7. Failing to highlight achievements

Interviews are the ideal platform to discuss your accomplishments. However, presenting them in a self-absorbed manner can be off-putting. Frame your achievements as contributions to a team or an organisation's success.

8. Providing generic answers

Interviewers often ask common questions to assess your suitability. Responding with clichéd answers or not tailoring your responses to the specific role can make you appear disengaged or insincere.

9. Lying on your CV and during the interview

You may realise that you don’t quite have the qualifications or experience for a role, but don’t be tempted to lie about your experience. If they decide to check your experience, or talk to previous employers, you could get caught out, which will damage your reputation. Even worse, you could start a role and not be able to deliver what is asked, leading to you losing the role anyway. Honesty is the best policy!

10. Neglecting questions for the interviewer

At the end of the interview, you're typically given the chance to ask questions. Not having any prepared shows a lack of interest or understanding about the position. Prepare thoughtful questions about the role, company, or team to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

To summarise, interviews are your chance to shine and make a memorable impression on potential employers. Avoiding the common pitfalls detailed above will position you as a strong candidate who is professional, prepared, and genuinely interested in the role. Remember, the goal is not only to showcase your qualifications, but also to demonstrate that you're a good fit for the company's culture and values.

So, go into your next interview armed with the knowledge of what not to do, and increase your chances of acing the interview and landing the job you've been working towards. If you are looking for a new job in technology or insurance, click here to browse our latest jobs.

About the author

James Morey is Principal Team Lead of the Gravitas JavaScript team in the UK. James brings over 9 years’ experience in recruitment helping experienced tech candidates to progress their careers.

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