In the past, we have talked about the things which should be done before, during and after the interview. Today, we are going to talk about the things which shouldn’t be done when it comes to interviews. In other words, we are going to talk about some common mistakes to avoid if you want an interview to go well.
First, let us look at some very basic mistakes:
- Turning up late: Time management and a margin for handling unforeseen delays should be thought of beforehand.
- Dressing inappropriately: This includes being over-dressed and/or under-dressed. Being appropriately dressed matters, not only because of the impression it will create, but also because your level of comfort in your own skin will be reflected in how you conduct yourself.
Now, let us look at some not so basic mistakes to avoid:
- Not Knowing Your CV Thoroughly:
An updated CV is important. But what is also important is knowing what you have included in it.
As basic and even silly as it sounds, it is a good idea to go through your own CV and polish up on your own understanding of the kind of brand you have created for yourself.
A question like “can you walk me through your CV?” shouldn’t leave you clueless about where to begin and what all to include in your response.
- Talking Negatively About the Current/Previous Employer:
Perhaps the reason you are looking for a change is because your experience with your current employer is not going too well. You can’t wait to resign and you are desperate for a change. Or you have already resigned.
Your experience with your current or former employer may or may not have been that great, but it’s necessary to remain as diplomatic as possible when asked about them (except in very serious cases). That is, if being positive is out of question.
Bad mouthing the current or your former employer can go wrong in multiple ways:
What if the interviewers know them?
What if it gives the impression that you are telling only your side of the story?
What is the guarantee for the interviewers that you will not bad mouth them in the future?
- Not Doing Enough Research:
By this, we mean research about the company, about the position you are interviewing for, the work culture and if possible, also about who is going to interview you. Good research gives the impression that you are taking the process seriously. Bad research leaves you clueless, hesitant in your responses and often leads to misunderstandings.
Moreover, research also includes researching on some potential generic interview questions and preparing loose scripts as responses. While it’s necessary to give space to spontaneity, it is also important to be as well prepared with the available information and knowledge.
That brings us to the next point.
- Not Paying Attention to Social Cues:
Remember, we are talking about a “loose script” and not a recorded answer.
As the interview goes on, paying attention to the social cues, the changes in body language, expressions is necessary. And it’s not entirely one way: as you pay attention to what the interviewer says, you could ask relevant questions wherever necessary, or at the end of the interview.
Trying too hard to stick to a script only makes the response come across as too superficial, too generic, too robotic, too mechanical and less human.
- Not Directly Answering the Question Asked:
A question is asked because the interviewers want to take away some key points from your answer.
Many candidates might feel the urge to side-step a question, especially if it means talking about a not so successful stint. Questions like:
-What are some of your weaknesses?
-Can you tell me about a development goal you have set?
-What is that one thing about you which you think you can improve upon?
As we talked about the article about answering such questions, it’s a bad idea to dismiss the question altogether by asserting you don’t have any weakness. Also, you don’t want to talk about a weakness and then through logical leaps and play of words prove that it is in fact, a strength. This may sound clever but can make you come across as cocky and a wiseacre.
If you are uncomfortable answering the question, let them know but don’t remain silent.
That brings us to the next point.
- Over-sharing or Under-sharing:
Sharing only the relevant information about skills and experience is necessary, no matter what the interview question is. Unnecessary personal details and digressions, using too much jargon don’t lead anywhere. On the other extreme, giving only generic or incomplete answers could also become a problem; you don’t want to miss out talking about the remarkable things you did.
In one of our previous articles, we talked about the STAR method, especially when it comes to behavioural questions. To freshen it up a bit, STAR, stands for:
S: The situation and its details.
T: The task one is assigned with.
A: The action taken.
R: The result of the action.
Keeping this formula in mind will help you make sure you don’t over-share or focus on irrelevant details. It will also keep you from going into the other extreme of not sharing crucial bits.
A clear grasp of the don’ts will ultimately result in a confidence necessary to ace any interview. Sometimes, a not-to-do can be more useful than a to-do list!