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What not to do in an interview

Candidates are always looking for things they should be doing in an interview to sell themselves to their future employee, but often forget about the things that can jeopardize their chances. 

Whether it is nerves or lack of interview preparation, candidates can commit a number of common interview mistakes when under pressure to secure the right role.

“Being able to conduct yourself in a professional and considered fashion at interview can often be just as important as demonstrating your technical abilities,” said Martin Fox, Managing Director at Robert Walters.

“We commonly see extremely talented candidates let themselves down at interview, either by not addressing their interviewer in the correct manner or properly communicating their desire for the role.”

We take a look at the top things that should be avoided:

1. Boasting

When you’re in an unfamiliar environment and under pressure to impress, it can be easy to oversell yourself in a way that comes across as disingenuous. To avoid showing off, ensure you reflect upon your answers and monitor your body language throughout the interview.

“Take the time to calm your nerves during an interview and construct your answers before you speak to appear confident but humble,” continued Fox.

2. Fabricating answers

If you’re hit with a curveball question, try to avoid diving straight in with an answer, taking a moment to consider all elements of the question so that you can provide an honest and considered response. Often rushing in with an answer can lead to unnecessary fabrication, despite this being intentional or not.

3. Forgetting your manners

Forgetting some of the basic social graces during an interview can steer it in the wrong direction, even from the first point of contact.

We suggest you:

  • Arrive early – arriving 15 minutes early will not only give you enough time to collect your thoughts, it will provide the breathing room you need to sign yourself in as well as navigate your way to the interview room
  • Greet your interviewer confidently – stand up to meet your interviewer and if you’re already seated when they enter the room, make sure you stand up straight to greet them, keeping their eye contact as you address them
  • Give a firm handshake – make sure to give your interviewer a firm handshake and continue to show eye contact from when you stood to greet them
  • Be gracious – remember to thank your interviewer for their time and for considering your application
  • Maximize the first five minutes of your interview, giving them a strong impression from the get-go


4. Not asking questions

"Being able to conduct yourself in a professional and considered fashion at interview can often be just as important as demonstrating your technical abilities."

“Posing questions before the end of your interview is a great way to demonstrate that you’ve fully considered the position as well as your potential fit within the business,” said Fox.

This is a step which should not be missed. Likewise, asking questions at the correct times throughout the interview will stimulate a natural flow of conversation, demonstrating your ability to think critically as well as naturally engage with stakeholders.

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