Recruiting Interviewing Stories – Gaffes to watch out for

As a recruitment agency we see all kinds of situations. It has been amazing to watch what people do on interviews.  I had a candidate that was interviewing with Panera Bread who walked into the interview with a Starbucks coffee!  There was a candidate who was finishing up chewing his breakfast while introducing himself to the interviewer.  What were these people thinking?  Obviously they weren’t!

Interviews come in many guises, but the errors people make are common. Some are very obvious, but recruiters still get faced with them on a regular basis.

Not enough research

By far the most common mistake candidates make is to prepare just by reading the job description. The company expects you to have done some research, looking at the company website, reading trade publications and analyzing competitors.

“One recruiter phoned me after an interview to say the candidate had clearly done a great deal of research and confidently spouted facts and figures about the company – sadly, it was the wrong company!”

Lying

One way to ask for trouble is to lie on your application or resume. Don’t do it. If you claim to be fluent in a foreign language, an interviewer is likely to put you to the test, and the ability to order a drink or ask for the bill in a restaurant will not suffice. Don’t make claims you cannot substantiate, and be prepared to show off any skill you have.

Poor timekeeping

Another common mistake recruiters report is poor timekeeping. If you are late for an interview, then your prospective employers will assume you will be late for work too. Even if they are understanding, you’ve just cut into your interview time. Rehearse your journey and don’t rely on websites to tell you how long it will take. You need to allow time for parking or walking from the station. Aim to arrive 15 minutes prior to your allocated time.

Rudeness

Once there, be friendly to everyone you meet. Interviewers frequently make colleagues their spies. If you manage to perform well in the interview, but you were rude to the receptionist, chances are they will not take the risk employing someone who showed an arrogant nature outside of the interview room.

Negativity

A question you are likely to be asked if you are leaving a job is, ‘Why?’ This question needs to be answered diplomatically, and you should prepare a calm response and turn any negatives into positives. If you over-emphasize negative aspects from a job, the recruiter may think you are a negative person rather than think you had a legitimate problem. Also, you don’t know who the recruiters knows.

“It is always worth bearing in mind, in many industries people know each other and the last thing you want to do is say detrimental things about your old manager. A candidate sat in an interview and elaborately told how her boss was really demanding, and she couldn’t work for her any longer. Her old boss turned out to be the sister-in-law of the interviewer. She didn’t get the job.”

Money talk

Talking about salary before you’ve even passed the first stage is also a mistake.

Jones says: “Salary negotiation in an interview is best avoided as it can come across that money is your only motivator. One candidate asked about the salary and deemed it to be too low and so upped and left the interview. This will never encourage the employer to meet you halfway. You never know what other opportunities the company may have in the future or the bonus and commission structures they have in place.”

It is best to ask about the direction of the company, the structure of the department you will be working in or if they have any doubts about your ability to do the job. This last question gives you a final opportunity to convince them you are the right person for the job by covering something you haven’t had the chance to.

Over-familiarity

Finally, don’t be too informal. Many interviewers come across as being very relaxed. This may lull you into a false sense of security, but this doesn’t mean they are no longer judging you.  “Interviewers often ask what candidates like to do socially to see if their personalities fit with the existing team. This does not mean you should lower the tone. One candidate saw this as a green light to talk about his love of drinking and the terrible hangovers he got. His language became crass and instantly gave the wrong impression despite being a top candidate.”

There are so many things to remember in an interview, but it’s also important to show some of your real personality. An over-polished interview technique comes over as fake and can be off-putting.

“The balance needs to be right. Recruiters do not want to interview a robot with standard answers memorized from a book, keep the tone relaxed yet formal and you should stand a good chance. And practice does make perfect. Learn from your mistakes, and interviews become easier.”

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