When it comes to interviews, you either love them or the them. For those who love them it?s likely that you are confident in your skills and experience and are ready to show this to your potential employer ? good.
But a lot of you may feel differently. This could be down to a whole raft of reasons ? from being out of the workplace for a while, maybe having a bad time or experience at work has taken its toll ? or it could just be a simple thing like lack of confidence.
However you feel, it?s important to go into an interview armed with the right tools, after all, you only get one shot and the first impression needs to be a good one if you want to get past the first interview stage.
We spoke to some industry experts who are on the other side of recruitment to give us an insight into what makes a interviewee stand out for them ? Mary Anne Clayton, head of recruitment and careers at Computeach; Justin Smith, director of media recruitment agency Wilson Smith; and Penny Davis, head of HR operations at T-mobile.
Most popular interview mistakes
We have had a lot of interesting interview mistakes! For example, one candidate called a “Blackberry” a “Blueberry” throughout their presentation, one candidate threw water over the table and the interviewer, we’ve had candidates come for the wrong job and one candidate thumping the table and intimidating the interviewer. But probably the most common mistakes are around the basics, such as not answering the question but giving a long rambling answer on something entirely different and not doing research on what the job is and what the organisation is about. (Penny Davis, T-mobile)
“Negativity! It is so important to put a positive spin on everything. For example if you?re asked why you want to leave your current position, don?t just moan and groan about your colleagues or the fact that you?re bored ? position it in a positive light. Say that you?re hungry for a new challenge and are looking for a new opportunity. The interviewer will sense your passion and enthusiasm for the position.” (Mary Anne Clayton, Computeach)
Classic errors, says Justin Smith, are?
- Turning up late? close to inexcusable and bound to start your interview off on the wrong foot?always leave plenty of time.
- Being negative ? easy to fall into if you?re not happy where you are or were but it never sounds good.
- Getting the name of the company or your interviewer wrong.
- Not turning your mobile phone off.
- Not knowing what job you are going for.
- Turning up soaking wet ? in winter pack an umbrella.
- If more than one person is interviewing, you remember to address any answers/questions to both.
- Mumbling and not maintaining good eye contact.
What makes a candidate stand out from others?
“One word ? confidence. It really is half the battle. During the 15 years that I have worked in HR and recruitment, I have never hired someone purely on the basis of their skills. They must show me that they have the right attitude and drive to do the job, without crossing the line into arrogance.” (Mary Anne Clayton, Computeach)
Justin Smith says:
- Passion ? the single most important factor for getting a new job; this will hopefully be for the company/position you go for but could also be for your current position, or even personal interests.
- Someone who has really done their research on their potential new employers.
- Good eye contact.
- A firm handshake.
- Sense of humour.
- Someone who asks good, pertinent questions.
Clothes – what not to wear
My personal view (and it is only a personal view) is you have to dress appropriately for the job you are being interviewed for and the organisation. I always find too much make up can be off putting, or anything loud or too revealing (but for other organisations and roles ? this might be fine). Definitely no food-stained clothes and clothes should also be done up! (Penny Davis, T-mobile)
Justin Smith, says:
- Anything too revealing ? mini skirt, low-cut top, anything see-through.
- Gaudy colours – use your discretion.
- Obvious signs of underwear probably wouldn?t help.
- In addition, too much jewellery, especially if it?s noisy it will detract from what you say.
- Depending on the role, wild colours in your hair or lots of facial piercing might not help.
Suited and booted ? is a suit always the best thing to wear to an interview?
“Not necessarily suited and booted but err on the side of caution so make sure you are smart. It?s unlikely that you?d get marked down for being well turned out but ripped jeans and a sweat top would give the impression that you haven?t made any effort and are not terribly bothered about getting the job.” (Justin Smith, Computeach)
“My advice is to overdress rather than underdress ? suited and booted is best. If in doubt, call ahead and ask the receptionist about the dress code. Making friends with the receptionist can be beneficial as they will always be asked their opinion of you.” (Mary Anne Clayton, Computeach)
Are you put off employing women?
“I work in the IT industry and in my experience, employers are crying out for women. It?s been a male-dominated sector for so long that employers are striving to redress the balance.”
(Mary Anne Clayton, Computeach)
What tactics do potential employers use to suss out pregnant interviewees?
“Whereas an interviewer could previously ask you directly about whether you are pregnant, this is no longer good practice. Questions such as ?what are your plans for the next five years?? are often used to establish whether you are planning a family.”
(Mary Anne Clayton, Computeach)