10 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Interview

Posted on 8/5/2017 by Katherine Memery

As we explored in an earlier blog, there are a number of ways you can improve your prospects of interview success. However, there are also things you might do that could sabotage your chances. Here we round up the most common blunders candidates make in interviews and what you can do to avoid making them yourself.

1.      Being awkward with interview times

When organising an interview with your recruitment consultant, be as flexible as possible. While you will, of course, have other commitments, it's important to make an effort to be available at a time that suits the interviewer.

Unless something comes up that can absolutely not be avoided, try not to reschedule. If you’re repeatedly plagued by issues with your childminder, dog or car at the interview scheduling stage, you’ll potentially come across as someone likely to be high-maintenance and unreliable in the workplace.

2.      Not looking the part

As the saying goes, ‘dress for the job you want, not for the job you have’. What you wear to an interview is crucial. Rightly or wrongly so, an interviewer is likely to make a snap judgement on your abilities based on what you’re wearing.

Turning up looking scruffy or wearing clothes that are inappropriate indicates that you’re not taking the opportunity seriously or simply can’t be bothered to make an effort. First impressions are invaluable, so it’s essential that you are dressed smartly and professionally to help demonstrate that you’re the perfect candidate for the job at hand.

3.      Arriving too early or being too eager

While you should never be late for an interview, you should also never be too early. If you arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment, you’ll either put pressure on the interviewer to wrap up what they’re working on to accommodate you or make them feel guilty for leaving you waiting in reception. Even worse, turning up early gives the impression that you have nowhere else to be.

During the interview, it’s important to be enthusiastic, but don't come on too strong. There’s a fine line between being excited about a role and firm and coming across as too eager or desperate.

4.      Having negative body language

Along with your personal appearance, your body language also speaks volumes about your personality, work ethic and ultimately, suitability. Poor posture or sitting with your arms crossed can make you come across as bored or unapproachable. Sit back straight in your chair, with your arms uncrossed and palms upward to show that you’re open, honest and happy to be there.

Nervous habits like fidgeting, shaking your leg or playing with your hair can also harm your chances by giving the impression of boredom or a lack of focus. Try and control these behaviours to show that you’re fully engaged.

Making eye contact with the interviewer is another way you can show that you are mentally present and listening to what they are saying. If it’s a panel interview, make sure you speak to and make eye contact with each member equally. Ignoring one of the firm’s partners while talking exclusively to the other will not do you any favours.  

5.      Bad-mouthing your boss

Being negative about your current role or firm is one of the worst things you can do in an interview and will almost certainly damage your chances of landing the job. Not only will you sound petty and bitter, but you never know who the interviewer might know; they might know your boss personally and the message could get passed on. Speaking negatively will also raise a major red flag as it will show that you might talk critically about a future employer.

Try to be constructive when explaining your reasons for entering the jobs market. Focus on how the prospective role will help to progress your future career, not on how it might allow you to escape your current job.

6.      Being over-rehearsed

Interview preparation is crucial, but it is possible to be over-prepared. If you’ve spent time beforehand planning your responses and learning them word-for-word, when it comes to communicating them in the interview there's a danger that you might come across robotic or even disinterested. If you recite your answers exactly as you learnt them, you’ll have trouble engaging the interviewer in genuine conversation and prevent yourself from communicating your personality.

7.      Talking about mistakes or weaknesses

Unless the interviewer poses the infamous question ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ you should remain positive throughout and don’t bring up any errors you’ve made. It’s only a good idea to mention past mistakes if you’re doing so to explain how you made a significant improvement or resolved the error.

8.      Oversharing

No matter how well you find that you get on with the interviewer, you should always remain professional. Be friendly and approachable, but don’t get carried away with sharing details about your private life. Remember, you’re meeting with your potential future employer, not your best friend.

9.      Asking the wrong questions

At the end of the interview, you’ll almost certainly be asked if you have any questions. It’s important that you think carefully about what you'd like to know and make sure that the questions you ask are appropriate. They should be relevant to the firm or role and not related to information you could find out elsewhere (like in the job description or on the company website).

Never ask about salary, holiday allowance or flexible working; these things can be discussed later on with your recruiter. Focusing on the benefits associated with the role will indicate that you’re more concerned about what the firm can do for you, rather than how you can contribute to its success. 

10. Not thanking the interviewer

Hiring managers are extremely busy people and the interviewer will have taken time out of their day to meet with you. It doesn’t matter how the interview went or how stressful you found it, a sincere thank you at the end of an interview is critical.

Sending a thank-you note or email once you get home will also be appreciated and could help you to improve your chances of securing the job.

Are you looking for an exciting new opportunity? Contact Realm today.

Our specialist consultants are experts in placing talented legal professionals in roles across the North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands. Get in touch by calling 03300 245 606 or email info@realmrecruit.com to find your next move.

10 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Interview


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