September 7, 2018

5 common interview mistakes you should avoid in your first interview

Preparing for your first interview? Then congratulations on passing the first step towards your new job! Now, to maximise you chances of making it to the next round, make sure you’re well prepared.

So, here are five common mistakes you should avoid:

1. Arriving late

Arriving late is probably the biggest mistake you can make, unless the circumstances were out of your control. For example, underestimating the journey time from your home to the interview location won’t be a reasonable excuse, as virtually everyone can get a reasonably accurate estimate of any journey time via apps like Google Maps these days. Getting delayed by exceptional traffic or a public transport shutdown will probably be a reasonable excuse – as long as it wasn’t foreseeable.

Bear in mind that one of the most common mistakes people make – and this doesn’t just apply to candidates attending their first interview – is that they arrive at the reception at the scheduled interview time.

Why is this a problem? Well, when you arrive, the receptionist will have to contact the interviewer, who may need to come down to reception to greet you before taking you to the interview room. This process can take several minutes – and the interviewer may only have the interview room allocated for a limited amount of time.

The solution:
Arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time. If you arrive earlier than this, go for a short walk or grab a coffee at a nearby café. If you do think you’ll be late, contact your interviewer as soon as possible, either by phone or e-mail.

2. Not researching the job and the company

One of the first questions your interviewer may ask you is what you know about the company, or what attracted you to apply for the position there. If you haven’t researched a few facts about the company, this will make you look unprepared and unmotivated.

The solution:
Memorise at least three interesting facts that are relevant to the company and the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying to become a trainee chef at a restaurant that specialises in fusion food, research some interesting facts about the latest trends in this type of cuisine.

3. Not giving a proper handshake

Your handshake can have a big impact on the impression you make. A weak handshake implies that you’re uncomfortable or uneasy around the interviewer – and this will instantly create a negative impression.

The solution:
Give a firm handshake of no longer than 2-3 seconds.

4. Sounding too perfect

Yes, we know this might sound strange, but sometimes people may not get the job because they’re afraid to talk about their weaknesses. Often, you’ll be asked a question along the lines of ‘what’s your biggest weakness?’ This isn’t because the interviewer is trying to catch you out. Instead, they’re testing your honesty and making sure that you’re human.

The solution:
Be honest! Answer the weakness question by referring to a mistake you once made and showing how you learned from it – this is what every good interviewer wants to see!

5. Appearing too informal

It’s important to look smart and presentable at your interview, especially if your prospective employer is a large, well-established company. Looking unkempt – such as wearing a creased shirt or baggy jeans – could be off-putting and make you appear unprofessional.

The solution:
If in doubt, always overdress! However, it’s best to e-mail the interview organiser well in advance to confirm what sort of dress code will be required. This might be traditional formalwear, or it could be ‘smart casual’.

Hopefully, you’ll find all the above useful!

And if you haven’t already, please register on our Talent Pool so we can connect you with hundreds of jobs with great employers. Even if you have an interview lined up, you have nothing to lose by applying to other jobs.