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Getting to the interview stage when applying for a job is not easy. The number one piece of advice once you know you have an interview is preparation – you can never be too prepared. On the other side of that, here are some things to avoid in an interview situation.

  • You talk too much – believe it or not the interview panel will often have a number of people they are seeing and they don’t really need to know your whole life story. Remain focussed and keep your answers on point. Don’t ramble – simply answer the question.
  • You don’t talk enough – the opposite of talking too much is giving one or two word answers. The interview panel want to know about your experience in relation to their questions and they can’t get that from a couple of words.
  • Answering questions incorrectly – you need to listen carefully to the question being asked and make sure you understand. It is perfectly fine to take a moment to consider your answer before speaking or if you are unsure, seek clarification on what is being asked.
  • Don’t be late – make sure you allow enough time and then a bit more when arriving for your interview. Know where you need to go and plan how you are going to get there. Arriving late can suggest that you have poor time management skills and is not being respectful of the interview panel’s time. When you are early you can make use of your time by sitting somewhere quiet and doing a final read of your notes and still arrive 5 or 10 minutes early for your interview.
  • Turn your phone off – you can do without the distraction and interruption of a mobile phone ringing when you are trying to make a good impression. A ringing or vibrating phone will not be received be received favourably by the interview panel. Turning the phone off is the easiest solution and will prevent you from making the biggest mistake of all – answering the phone during an interview.
  • Hard questions – nobody likes them, but you can be asked uncomfortable questions like “tell us about a time when you have had to work with someone who was not doing their share of the work – what did you do and what was the outcome”. Try to keep the situation positive. Take a moment to think about your answer and briefly describe the situation, what you did and the outcome. It is helpful to think STAR – situation, task, action, result. If you have learned something from your experience, it is always good to include in your answer.
  • Past employer rage – you don’t always know who is going to be on your interview panel and who they might know. Bagging out a previous employer will not put you in a good light. You can keep your reasons for leaving personal and suggest to the panel you wanted to try a new role, a new company, or expand your skill set.
  • That burning question – I don’t know how many times I have been asked at the end of an interview “do you have any questions for the panel”. Responding with “no” or “what is my salary” or “when do you expect to make a decision” doesn’t show too much thought. Reading online I found a great answer which I have used. When the panel asked that question, my response was “what are the immediate priorities for the role?” It took a minute for the panel chair to answer with a range of tasks that they wanted to get the successful candidate started on. Having a question that is a bit different but relevant can indicate that you are really interested in the role and have given it some consideration.

Be mindful and be prepared – it will make you more relaxed in an interview situation.