Are you stuck on the interview treadmill, going to interviews but not getting any offers? It’s frustrating, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
The problem could lie with your interview technique. It can be hard to analyse your own performance in an interview, and it’s rare to get feedback. You might not realise you’ve developed some bad habits that set your interviewers’ teeth on edge, stopping you getting that important job offer.
But don’t panic: there are some easy fixes that can get you back on track. Here are some of the common mistakes and what you can do to improve:
Practicing your answers too much
Everyone knows preparation is key to interview success. Practicing your answers, especially for competency-based interviews is one of the cornerstones of preparation.
While some candidates learn their answers off by heart, there is nothing more frustrating to an interviewer someone rolling out a rehearsed reply. This can also hinder your ability to reply effectively to questions.
If you over-rehearse, then take your preparation down a notch. Collect evidence of the competencies required for the job but think about how to be flexible with your answers. Make sure you listen to the questions so you really understand what the interviewer wants from you.
Being too honest
A key piece of interview advice is to be yourself. But interviewers do not want you to pour out your whole life story, share your terrible weaknesses or explain why you hated your last boss. It can be tempting to tell all when you are nervous but that can sound the death knell for your possible success.
If you are guilty of oversharing, then prior to the interview work out what is and isn’t appropriate to talk about. Think of five points about yourself, relevant to the job, that you could share if asked the question: “Tell me about yourself.”
If you are asked about your weaknesses don’t give the interviewer reasons to be concerned about your ability to do the job. Limit your answer to one weakness and provide a coping strategy.
Don’t be honest about the negative aspects of your current or previous role, you will come across as a potential disruptive influence on the team – no one likes a moaner. Instead, process your negative feelings in private and let them go.
Turning up too early
All the interview advice books and articles tell you to arrive early for your interview but how early is early?
It can be a pain for the interview panel if you arrive more than 15 minutes earlier than your allotted time. They will be running a tight schedule and don’t want to feel under pressure. Also, it’s not good for your nerves to be sitting in the corridor looking at all the other candidates.
If you do arrive really early, go for a walk around or to a café, which also give you a chance to get familiar with the location.
Not doing the research
When you’re pushed for time, it can be easy to not research the company and role thoroughly. But there is nothing more off-putting than interviewing someone who has made no effort to understand what the role entails.
While it’s important to not over-rehearse to the point of being a rigid interviewee, do not fall into the trap of going in underprepared. Make sure you know what the company’s vision and strategy is and how your role contributes to it. Consider how your experience relates to this and prepare some strategic questions to ask.
Make sure you also research your potential boss, which will help you find ways to connect with them more effectively during the interview.