- Not having an up to date or relevant CV. Major major boo boo, here. If your CV has chunks of time missing, unexplained gaps between jobs, or if you’re applying for a technical role (with no relevant experience) when the job description clearly states ‘technical experience required’, don’t be surprised if they don’t call you for an interview.
- Cover letter addressed to the wrong job role/company. Not a great way to make a first impression. Lack of attention to detail on this scale will guarantee your application gets a one way ticket to the bin. Most employers can see a cut and paste job a mile off, so try to customize your letters to increase your chances of success.
- Inappropriate dress code. The interview is a perfect opportunity to show you understand the company’s culture and that also means dressing the part. If in doubt, wear business attire but definitely do ask about the dress code before you arrive. Some tech companies will reject candidates if they are too formally dressed, so information is power in this regard.
- Turning up late to an interview. Always scope out the location of where you are going beforehand. Make sure you know how long it takes with or without traffic and follow the golden rule of allowing PLENTY of time. Do a dry run, if absolutely necessary, and if travelling a long distance, catch the penultimate train/coach/plane, if possible, in case of delays.
- Complaining about your current/previous job roles. Bad move – never looks good or professional to diss your employer, no matter how justified you feel. No one likes sour grapes and any sob stories (regardless of fault) may give the interviewer the impression that you’re a handful to manage. Obviously, there are exceptions, like bullying, but even then, be careful of what you say. Don’t use the interview as a therapy session, that’s not why you’re there (and you never know if the interviewer has connections with people at your company/previous employer).
- Waffling or giving generic answers to specific questions. We’ve all been there before. You get asked a question, then get stuck down a certain train of thought and before you know it, you’ve forgotten the purpose of the question. As much as you like telling a good story or selling your skills, you won’t be giving them a good impression of yourself if you don’t LISTEN to questions. If in doubt, ask for further clarification BEFORE you start your answer. Ensure you understand what you’re being asked and give yourself some time to formulate a good response before you jump in feet first.
- Not asking questions. One interviewer at a top tech company once told me that she would screen out candidates who didn’t ask questions when asked. She said that it disappointed her that candidates missed out on a good opportunity to show their interest. Come armed with a list of questions, so you don’t forget about them when the conversation is in full flow. If you’re stumped, ask about the culture, why they work for the organization.
- Asking about money too early on in the interview process. I know, salary can be a sensitive topic, but you should leave any salary related discussions to the HR team or recruiter. Get the hiring managers sold on you first, to strengthen your position when it comes to negotiating your offer later.Post-interview
- Being too shy to chase for interview feedback. Ever been left hanging after a job interview, wondering what happened? While there are unfortunately, many recruiters who don’t give feedback, you must never feel like you shouldn’t ask in the first place. Email/call them if they don’t get back to you within the deadline they’ve given you. Definitely let them know if you’ve received another offer, or are waiting for feedback from other organizations. You deserve to know where you stand. Having said that, don’t stalk or badger them and don’t burn your bridges by getting angry. If they don’t have the courtesy to give you any feedback, are they really a company you would like to work for?Once You’ve Started
- Turning into staffzilla as soon as you have accepted the offer. Remember, just because they’ve offered you a job, it doesn’t mean that you walk on water. You’re still there to learn and any arrogant or primadonna behaviour will only put them off. The old concept of a ‘job for life’ might no longer exist, and you might only be there for a couple of years max, but make the most of the opportunity you’ve been given, be grateful for the investment and get ready for an exciting new chapter of your career!
Luisa @ Henley Careers