Five things to avoid for job interview success

Job interviews can create stress and anxiety but some simple steps can make all the difference.

Congratulations! You’ve snared an interview and now the hard work begins. What happens at your interview can pave the way for a successful career. Here’s what not to do during the interview.

Don’t… sidestep questions

If you’ve made a career change, been made redundant or taken an extended time away from work for any reason, don’t try to hide it. Your CV will reflect your history, your referees may mention it, and any social stalking a savvy employer might do is likely to uncover it.

The best way to deal with these questions is to be direct, but not defensive. Redundancy is always difficult to deal with, but employers understand that hard decisions sometimes have to be made. Likewise, everyone goes through tough periods in their personal life and the emphasis here is on how you’ve dealt with it. Frame your response in terms of your growth and your ability to deal with tough situations.

Don’t… think in silence

When you’re asked a question, the panel is looking for your process as much as your answer. They want insight into the way you think more than what you know. If you take the time to think it through in silence, you’re likely to look down, breaking eye contact and bringing down the energy of the conversation.

Instead, don’t be afraid to muse out loud and be transparent in how you’re dealing with the problem that’s been posed. You’ll get points for original thought, and if you end up somewhere the panel weren’t expecting, they’ll know how you got there.

Don’t… call yourself a perfectionist

No one enjoys answering questions about their weaknesses or areas they need to improve, but giving a thoughtful and genuine answer here is a great way to impress – especially if you can also demonstrate a plan to improve. Identifying a skills gap and the corresponding course you plan to take in order to fill it is a wonderful way to respond to such questions.

However, never be tempted to tell a potential employer that your biggest weakness is perfection. Even if they do take you seriously, this could be perceived as being at odds with the flexible mindset required for many roles today.

Don’t… dull yourself down

By all means, dress up! It’s important to show you are taking things seriously. But if there are things that you generally wear to express yourself, don’t change for this meeting. Maybe you have a brooch or a necklace that you love, or maybe it’s an eye-catching tie, a pair of funky socks or bright glasses.

Apart from giving your potential employers the impression that you’re more than just a suit, this is a chance to spark a conversation about something other than the role, and for the panel to get to know you and gain valuable insight into your cultural fit.

Don’t… focus on one person

While this sounds simple, it’s a common interview mistake and often comes down to nerves. A panel interview is a chance for everyone to get to know you, and it’s important that you acknowledge this. If one person is especially important to your role, or you know you would be working with them directly, it’s tempting to primarily address them.

Make sure you’re aware of this predisposition going in. It’s likely that the panel will take turns asking questions, so ensure your answers address them accordingly. It’s also important to prepare questions for the entire panel. Even if certain panel members may not have a direct relationship to your role, you can still ask them questions on company culture and upcoming projects.