Ten common errors professionals make during interviews

January 23, 2015 4 mins read
Ten common errors professionals make during interviews

What kind of errors should we avoid making when taking part in a job interview? Below, I have compiled a list of the ten most common errors that professionals make during an interview:

1. Inappropriate clothing

Although positions differ greatly, it is important, no matter what kind of position you're applying for, to dress as professionally as possible. Even if you're applying for a job at a casual business that is only just taking off, it is still important to wear a business suit. Whether or not your apparel is sufficiently neat and professional will have a significant influence on the initial impression that you give your interviewer.

2. Tardiness

A lot of people are aware that the first impression you make during a job interview is of the utmost importance. However, did you know that sometimes your behavior can leave your interviewer with a bad impression of you, even before the interview has started? Arriving late to an interview will not only reflect poorly on your time management skills—it will also give the impression that you lack respect for the company and the position for which you are applying.

3. Bringing a beverage

Should you feel the need to give yourself a liquid energy boost before an interview, it is best to finish whatever you are drinking before the interview begins. Bringing a beverage to an interview will appear unprofessional. What's more, during an interview, you should be more focused on: giving the interviewer a good impression, responding to questions, and maintaining eye contact with the interviewer. Having a beverage in front of you may cause such problems as: missing a key question, playing with the cup—or even spilling the drink all over the table, yourself, or your interviewer!

4. Mobile phone issues

Before the interview begins, make sure to switch your phone to silent. Sending text messages during an interview will not only make you seem vulgar and impolite, leaving your interviewer with an unfavorable impression; it will also give your potential future boss the impression that the position is not your first choice.

5. Ignorance about the company

Don't allow yourself to be at a loss for words when your potential boss asks you the following question: "How much do you know about our company?" This question is a trump card that interviewers will almost invariably decide to play. You can find the company's development history, location, departments and their mission statement in the "About Us" section on their official website. You can also take a look at their LinkedIn or Facebook page, should they have one.

6. Unfamiliarity with your CV

Although the company will already have a copy of your CV before the interview, you may still be required to fill out a professional application form. Ensure that you remember the duration of your former jobs, the date of your graduation, as well as the contact details of your former colleagues and employers. Employers will generally be understanding if you have trouble remembering the details of a job you had a long time ago; however, we recommend that you look over your CV before each interview, and memorize specific projects and other details.

7. Lack of concentration

Whatever you do, don't daydream during your interview! Make sure that you have sufficiently rested before each interview, that you have adequately prepared, and that you are in a good mental state. Should you catch yourself drifting off, make an effort to shift your focus back to the interview. Maintain eye contact and sit slightly forward when communicating with the interviewer. Listening attentively and making an effort to interact with your interviewer will help you remain concentrated.

8. Garrulousness

No interviewer likes their candidate to ramble on in unsparing detail. Avoid at all costs going off on a tangent about your family, your partner, your children or trivial personal matters. Make sure that the underlying point of each of your responses stands out: get straight to the point instead of beating around the bush.9. Providing offhanded responses

Your interviewer isn't purely interested in obtaining basic information such as your prior work experiences—as an employer, they may thoroughly interrogate you about anything that they believe is relevant to your motivation or your appropriateness for the position. Therefore, don't allow yourself to be caught off guard: preparing a list of potential questions before each interview will make the interview process much less stressful.

10. Complaining about former bosses

Whatever you do, don't excessively complain about former bosses or colleagues. The world is often smaller than you think: your interviewer may very well be a good acquaintance of your past "stupid bosses" or "awful colleagues", and you will never know just what they will think of your complaints or how what steps they will take to better understand the situation. Therefore, leave your potential boss with the impression that you developed a harmonious relationship with former bosses and colleagues and that you are capable of dealing with troublesome conflicts. This will be much more constructive than merely complaining.

Very often, we don't even realize the errors that we make during interviews. It is therefore important to spend time preparing for each interview in order to reduce the number of errors we make and increase our chances of success.

I hope you have found my interview tips helpful and if you require further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Marlon Mai's picture
Managing Director, Greater China
mmai@morganmckinley.com