… and how to avoid them.
‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ – Benjamin Franklin
The overarching reason why most people fail at interview is due to their lack of preparation. You can prepare for around 85% of an interview and yet so many people still leave it up to chance, mistakenly thinking that they don’t know what questions they will be asked. Whether you’re having a competency based interview (an interview based on the company’s values/behaviours) or whether it’s a CV based interview, your preparation should be no different.
Here’s my list of some of the most common mistakes people make based on the thousands of interviews I’ve conducted over the years, together with feedback from the delegates and clients with whom I’ve worked in a coaching capacity:
1. Not being able to talk through your CV
It never ceases to amaze me how many people can’t talk through their CV. Even if you know you’re going to have a competency based interview; almost every interviewer will start by asking you to talk through your career history. Therefore, you’ve not excuse not to rehearse this, being able to give a good overview of your CV within 5 minutes. I suggest that you practise saying it out loud as many times as possible before the interview.
2. Not rehearsing your key achievements
You are undoubtedly going to get asked what you have achieved in your career; after all, that is the primary purpose of an interview. The employer wants to know what they get if they employ you and what difference they can expect you to make to their business. Prepare at least eight things that you’ve achieved (preferably within the last three years) that have added value. The more facts and figures (money, percentages, KPIs) you can provide, the better.
3. Not preparing answers for frequently asked questions
There are common FAQs that form part of most interviews (see my post, ’Top 10 Most Asked Interview Questions’ for my personal compilation). Questions like:
‘What are your strengths/weaknesses/development areas?’ ‘How would your colleagues/manager describe you?’ ‘Why should we choose you?’. My top tip, ‘never knowingly give a recruiter a reason to reject you’. By giving some thought to these questions, you’ll avoid the temptation to answer with the first thing that pops into your head.
4. Not adjusting your communication style
We all have different learning and communication styles, we either process information through what we hear, see or feel. While we all have a combination of all three, we do tend to have a preference. With this in mind, it’s important that we address each style during an interview so that we don’t alienate the interviewers.
- For the seeing interviewer – dress smartly and appropriately with polished shoes. Take a folder with you that contains relevant information e.g. CV, questions for them, etc.
- For the hearing interviewer – practise talking about your achievements and CV so that they flow smoothly. Using varying your pitch and tone ensuring that you speak clearly and not too quickly. Our pitch/tone/speed tend to increase when we’re nervous. Practising will help you overcome this.
- For the feeling interviewer – give good clear explanations about you feel about your current job and what you feel about working for them. I recommend taking examples of your work (e.g. if you’re a graphic designer), which will impress the ‘feeling’ interviewer.
5. Turning up late/leaving your phone on
Turning up late is still a very common mistakes and speaks volumes about how you would behave if you got the job. Before the interview, if possible, do a trial run of getting to the venue at the same time on a weekday (don’t try at the weekend as the traffic will be completely different and you may end up being very late). Get to the venue a minimum of 10 minutes before your interview is due to start which should give you plenty of time to turn off your phone, take a few deep breaths and prepare yourself. If you do forget to turn your phone off and it rings during the interview, apologise and switch it off – DO NOT ANSWER IT!
Of course, there are many other things to consider, for example, preparing your questions for the interviewer, using positive body language, etc. These, together with numerous other top tips, can be found in my recent book ‘Land Your Dream Job Now!’, available at Amazon. In summary, the next time you go for an interview, my biggest top tip is… PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!
Also available is my Your Dream Job FREE mini course which is packed full of all of my top job hunting tips. Click here to find out more and sign up NOW!