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Scary interview mistakes – a recruiters retrospective

Scary interview mistakes – a recruiters retrospective

scary_interview_mistakes Remember that dream where you’re half way through an interview, look down and you’re naked? Or running late to your job interview but your feet are stuck in cement? Sounds familiar doesn’t it? That’s because interviews can be scary.

Sometimes reality is even scarier than our dreams, and these common job interview mishaps are too nerve-wracking to ignore.

We asked the people in the know – our recruitment consultants – for their scariest interview mistakes. Take a look at their top 10 along with some advice to make sure you don’t spook yourself out of a job.


1. Jedi mind tricks

You’re shaking hands with your interviewer and suddenly a Jedi appears and wipes your mind clean – you promptly blank on your interviewer’s name.

Nightmare defence: If it’s too late and you’re gabbling for a name, just avoid saying it at all and instead move the conversation to other ‘no name’ needed topics. When in doubt use the weather.

Nightmare avoidance: As soon as your interview is put in the diary, ask for the name of the person interviewing you and repeat until memorised, take the job description into the interview with their names written on top so you have a reference if needed.

Top tip: repeat their names back to them – most people’s favourite sound is their own name, use this to your advantage.


2. Your route cannot be calculated…

You’re on your way to the interview and low and behold, the bus you needed has broken down, your train has been cancelled or the company has disappeared from Google maps – mysterious AND terrifying.

Nightmare defence: There’s no excuse for being late as you should be timing your arrival long before your interview is scheduled if only a specific mode of transport is available. However, if you’re in this situation, call the company as soon as you know you’re going to be late, letting them know why and providing them with an ETA.

Nightmare avoidance: Look up directions ahead of time, and if possible, do a practice run to make sure you know where you’re going.

Top tip: Don’t rely on Google maps, instead look on the company website and ask for directions from the receptionist – she’ll have insider tips to share.


3. A white-knuckle ride

You’re in the interview chair, pleasantries over with and find yourself gripping the chair as if your life depended on it – fear well and truly taking hold

Nightmare defence: Loosen up! Take a deep breath, remember to smile and take a glass of water in with you, that way you have a way to take a moment to compose yourself.

Nightmare avoidance: Acing the interview is just as much about how you look as what you say. You need to feel confident, so dress the part and get your friends and family to practice with you beforehand.



4. I didn’t want to work there anyway…

Badmouthing your last job, boss, or company is a frightful mistake, no matter how warranted it might be. The past is the past – leave it there. You want to come across as a team player not a lone wolf so stay positive. Always avoid saying that you’re simply looking for a new challenge if you can’t back it up, because the recruiter will dig deeper. If all else fails, explaining that there were no opportunities for career progression sounds a lot better.



5. Ghostly shrieks of your mobile

Your mobile is haunted because it only rings during the worst possible moment, your interview.

The question should be, why is it on in the first place?

Some of our recruiter’s favorite interview nightmares of this nature included:

– A candidate who left their iPod on all the way through the interview, even worse the song was Britney Spears – ‘Sometimes’.
– A candidate who spent the entire interview with his headphones in..
– An applicant taking a selfie of their interview and uploading it to Facebook with the status ‘Nailing my job interview #hired’

Nightmare avoidance: To avoid this, make it a per-interview ritual to turn off your mobile, double-check your appearance (no spinach in your teeth) and pop a breath mint beforehand.




6. Sink your teeth into it

Unfortunately, some people get little peckish when they’re panicking. Then there are the less sensible options…

Our recruitment consultants have had some experiences…

A candidate eating a smoked salmon bagel in the foyer and then smelling it all through the interview while they took little bites between sentences

– Bringing a Chinese takeaway to a group interview – to be fair they shared the spring rolls
– Enjoying a liquid lunch – I’ll have a glass of wine to go with that job spec please?

Nightmare avoidance: The sensible thing to do would be to have a well-balanced breakfast before the big day, or to grab a banana on the go.

7. Doing a Frankenstein when it comes to ‘any questions?’

The last question of almost every job interview is, “Do you have any questions for us?” and “no” is not an answer. It’s not just a way for you to find out more about the organisation, it’s a way for the interviewer to gauge your level of interest and if you’ve done your research.

Nightmare avoidance: Bring three to five thoughtful questions that show you’ve researched the company and are prepared for the job.


8. Zombie dress code

A big part of how you come across to recruiters is based on what you wear. Over 50% of our recruiters admitted to being swayed by an interviewees dress sense when deciding to put forward candidates for interview, demonstrating first impressions count.

Some of our recruiter’s favourite interview fashion faux-pas included:

– A skype interview conducted in pyjamas
– A male candidate who turned up for a job at a bank in a sweatshirt and trainers
– A female candidate who had ‘I woke up like this’ written across her top (snaps for Beyonce references though)

Nightmare avoidance: Check out the company’s website and social media, if possible, “stalk” the company ahead of time to see how people dress, and try to mimic their style. Or, WAY simpler than that, dress professionally. Better to be overdressed than under dressed.

9. A disappearing act

One of our most memorable stories involves a candidate that was told he would have to embark on a short math test. The recruiter left the room and when they returned, the candidate had vanished. All that was left was a note that said, “this role is not for me, I hate math”.

Needless to say, even if you do have a change of mind during the interview, wait until it’s over before saying something.


10. Two’s company

It’s common to require some moral support before or after an interview, but what about during?

Moral support came in all shapes and sizes for these job seekers;

– A female candidate brought their mum to the interview (and the mum did most the talking)
– During one interview question a candidate phoned their dad to check. The question was ‘how long were you at your last position’?
– During a Skype interview the candidates boyfriend was in bed next to her

Needless to say, job interviews are about you and you alone, but do take your references along.

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