When it comes to the subject of interviews, “mistakes” is a subject I like to approach with care. In reality, each company is different, and what may count as a mistake in some interviews may be a point in your favour in another. And perhaps the greatest mistake you can make in an interview is to become so conscious of possible errors you may make that you clam up with nerves.
With this in mind, there are some pieces of advice that apply to all interviews. Although they may seem obvious, common sense, as they say, “ain’t so common”. So make sure your level of self-awareness is at least high enough to avoid falling into any of the pitfalls below.
1. Avoid dominating the conversation
Although your interview is your chance to show off your knowledge about the questions in hand, it’s a good idea to avoid being too forceful with your opinion or leading the conversation too strongly. If you’re worried this might apply to you, a good trick is to ask the interview panel lots of questions – and make sure you listen to the answers.
2. Be well prepared
Even if you’re fortunate enough to be naturally good at thinking on your feet, with a bit of preparation you can amplify your abilities even further. Being well prepared includes everything you can do before the interview to make sure it goes well on the actual day – dressing appropriately (if in doubt, always err on the side of formality), making sure you arrive on time, thinking about possible interview questions and having several copies of your CV ready in case you’re asked for one. Don’t forget to double check the original job advert you saw and think about how you can demonstrate that you fill the requirements listed.
3. Clean up your social media act
Even if they don’t instigate an in-depth hunt on online presence, don’t doubt that there’s a good chance your interviewers will quickly look you up on Facebook before or after the interview. At the very least, make sure all the photos in your profile photo folder are respectable and your privacy settings are turned up to max. See here for more in-depth commentary on social media and your job prospects.
4. Do your research
Really an extension of point 2, it’s vital to have looked into the company and position your hoping to obtain before you attend the interview. This way, you will be able to answer interview questions with a better idea of the company culture and requirements. Just as your employers can look you up online, you can use the same tricks to your advantage. Try checking the homepage of their website to see if they have a Facebook or Twitter account or even a blog where you can get a feel for the organisation.
5. Mind your manners
Minding your Ps and Qs in an interview can go a long way. If your interviewers ask you how you are, it’s polite to respond to them with the same question. Make sure your mobile is switched off throughout the interview. Smile and show interest. And make sure you thank your interviewer at the end of the interview – after all, they’ve given up their time to offer you an opportunity just as much as the reverse is true.