Some of you may have read my “How to get to the top with absolutely NO talent” which gives a few tongue-in-cheek pointers as to what NOT to when attending a job interview.
I thought that it might also be useful to tell you a few other pitfalls – especially as more and more of you will be attending interviews over the next few months (years!).
Turning up on time seems like an obvious piece of advice. Turn-up in plenty of time to ask where the loo is so that you can at least straighten your hair and see how you look after the journey. You know how it when you’ve either walked 100 metres from a train station or walked 20 paces from your car – there is always that rogue gust of wind which messes up your hair or that snap rain shower which makes your suit feel like a dishcloth or washes-away your makeup. Arrive with plenty of time to settle down and convince yourself that you look good!
At some stage during the interview, you will be asked whether you have any questions. There are a couple of things which you definitely never ask about. The first rule is that you never, ever ask about salary, overtime, holidays etc. The function of the first interview is to demonstrate how lucky your prospective employer will be if he is wise enough to hire you. The interviewer needs to know what you can do for his company and not to tell you what they can do for you.
Never ask inane questions about the company. “How many employees do you have?” Do your homework. If you are being interviewed in an Agency pre-selection interview , you can get away with a few inane questions but remember that this type of interviewer sees you as no more than a commodity.
When you are asked the ubiquiotous “Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?” never reply “In your seat” or any of the other trite replies which the interviewer has heard a million times before. Start your answer with a “Hopefully..” and talk about working hard and progressing. (Every company will lie to you and say that it runs a “meritocracy”).
You want a job. This job. You need to show commitment to the job which you are being hired for.
Another favourite (lazy) interview question is the good old “What are your weaknesses” question. Yes – even now, some interviewers believe that this is an excellent interview question. Although it is a rubbish question, you can put a positive spin on it without appearing too clichéd.
The first rule here is not to give that type of answer which attempts to turn such a ridiculous question into a major positive. You know the sort of thing: ” I tend to be too much of a perfectionist” or ” I put in too many hours” etc etc. The only reaction answers such as these will generate is a yawn.
The correct way to deal with this type of question is to think about skills rather than attributes. For instance , if you need to polish-up your Powerpoint skills or have forgotten a few Excel shortcuts, use those. ” I’m a little bit rusty…..”
In my book, I state quite clearly that you should not lie about qualifications but that things such as GCSEs are rarely checked – so what you say about qualifications is up to you. However do not claim anything that you will not be able to bluff your way through or a qualification which suggests that you will be be able to do the job when you can’t. Lie intelligently. Otherwise you are not-only wasting the interviewers time but your own as well.
Most interviewers realise that you will exaggerate the responsibilities you have in your current and previous jobs – just do not overdo it!
When you are approaching the end of the interview, the interviewer knows that you need to know as soon as possible whether or not you have been successful. The “When?” question is always a pain so don’t ask it. A bad interviewer (and there are lots of those), will sometimes make you believe that you have been successful and too many interviewees spend the interview misinterpreting what the interviewer is saying – especially if at some stage he says “We”, meaning “The Company” and you think that he is including you.
Don’t spend the interview searching for imaginary clues which make you believe that you have the job.
” I need to know as soon as possible because I have other interviews.” is another favourite which practically guarantees that you will not be participating in a second interview or shortlist.
” I really need this job.” or my personal favourite ” I’d do anything to get this job.” do not convey you as a thrusting “go-getter” – just a desperate loser. (I’ve been on the receiving end of both). Avoid!
Finally, I presume that you are wearing a suit (both males and females). If you are, make sure that it is clean and pressed and ladies – do not display your chest – no matter how proud of it you are. It can be an unnecessary distraction and in my experience , does little to enhance your job chances (and I’m a big fan!) – but it is a very common mistake!
Good Luck….and remember the correct mind-set. It is THEY who will be lucky to employ YOU!