It’s one of the best phone calls you can get, you’ve got an interview for a retail job you really want. You’ve danced around your room and knocked things over in excitement. Then you realise you have no idea what to do next. Read on to find out the most common mistakes people make in interviews, learn from them, don’t make them, and you’re bound to do well.
Not enough research
Take a break from stalking your friends online and do some digging about your potential employers instead. If you don’t research the company it’ll be obvious to the interviewer, so look beyond the job description and learn as much as you can about the company. Look at their website, read any publications they have and analyse their competitors.
Patrick Jones, managing director of Jones Optical, says: “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!”
Be prepared to show off any skill you have, but resist the temptation to lie, no matter how small you think it is. If you don’t get caught out in the interview, you will later on and you could find yourself unemployed once they realise. Can’t speak a foreign language? Don’t say you can, chances are the interviewer will want to put you to the test.
Wrong dress code
Appearance is everything for an interview, so don’t go along looking like you got dressed in the dark. Wear suitable clothes for the company, and if you aren’t sure what to wear, a suit or a nice black dress is always a safe bet, instantly smart.
One of the most common yet avoidable mistakes is poor timekeeping. If you’re late for the interview, your employer might assume you’d be late for work too, not the best first impression, so make sure you know the journey and how long it will take. Don’t put all your faith into online journey planners, they don’t always account for heavy traffic and walking distances aren’t always correct.
Remember, trains and buses can get delayed, so make sure you have the name and phone number of the interviewer so you can call ahead and let them know if you get stuck.
It sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but once you're 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 won't take the risk of employing you.
A question you're likely to be asked if you're leaving your job is, ‘Why?’ If you don't like your current job, it might be a good idea to prepare a calm, balanced response. If you over-emphasise negative aspects from a job, you risk coming across as a negative person. Plus you never know, that person in the office that you just slated could know your interviewer. Don’t risk it.
Jones says: “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.”
It’s an important issue, but you shouldn’t start talking about salary before you’ve even passed the first stage.
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.”
Finally, don’t be too informal. Interviewers may be very relaxed with you, and of course they want you to be yourself, but it doesn’t mean they want to hear all about your holiday in Spain.
Jones says: “Interviewers often ask what candidates like to do socially to see if their personalities fit with the existing team. But don't go overboard with your answer. 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.”
Interviews can be stressful, especially when there seem to be so many things to remember, but show some of your personality and you’ll be fine, an over-polished interview technique comes over as fake and can be off-putting.
Jones says: “The balance needs to be right. Recruiters don't want to interview a robot with answers memorised from a book, keep the tone relaxed, yet formal and you stand a good chance. And practice does make perfect. Learn from your mistakes, and interviews become easier.”
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