Whether you’re looking for your first job or you’re a seasoned professional who has been there and done it, we all get a bit nervous about interviews.
1: “I’m too much of a perfectionist!”
Seen in the article as the obvious answer to give when asked about any weaknesses (and one that we admit to using ourselves!), lots of people say they are too much of a perfectionist in an interview. But if lots of people use it, it won’t make you stand out from the crowd (and if the last three people the interviewers have seen all say the same thing they may inwardly groan and nod off when you explain why being a perfectionist is a weakness that can be turned into a strength).
Try to think of another example, Chris suggests, where you have overcome something that you felt was holding you back or you are trying to improve – maybe the company is global and you know a little of a foreign language but are trying to improve it by taking a course in order to expand your communication skills?
2: “My old boss was an idiot”
We agree with Chris in that saying this in an interview will do nothing but make you look bad. You’ll look like someone with a chip on your shoulder, possibly a trouble maker and a gossip. They’ll wonder what you would say about them behind their back if they offered you the job, which they probably won’t do.
Don’t focus on any bad points of your current/previous job, even if there are many. Instead, if asked why you want to leave, focus on you and your ambitions and, as the article suggests, how the job interests you – don’t let someone you’re trying to get away from overshadow you and scupper your chances.
3: “Where do I see myself in five years? In your job”
The article makes the point that this answer will do nothing but make you seem too cocky. A little ambition is a good thing but saying you want the interviewers job will surely do nothing but get their hackles up!
We suggest, if asked where you want to be in five years’ time, you tailor your answer to the company whilst highlighting your personal skills and abilities, for example, “I’d like to have developed my role as a Specialist Nurse by successfully setting up the new screening department and ensuring all the nurses and healthcare assistants that will be working in it are well trained and fulfilled in their roles.
I’d like to have a well-run department where patients feel comfortable and at ease when they attend for their appointments and on a personal note I’d like to have undertaken my Masters and be able to voice my opinions and have my ideas listened to.”
4: “You look great”
We can’t believe that anyone would actually say this in an interview unless it was for a fashion house or something similar, but even then… Being professional is essential in an interview and if you get offered the job you have plenty of time to get to know your new bosses and only then should you make (nice!) comments on their appearance and only if you think they’d appreciate it. Chris Meredith suggests instead impressing them with your knowledge of the company and the prospective role.
5: “Sorry I’m late”
An obvious one, but as the article states it’s imperative to be on time for your interview. Have a trial run, know your options for getting there, whether by car or public transport, and ensure you are there in good time. Is there parking space? Is there a long walk from the bus stop or train station? If the company is located in a business centre, familiarise yourself with its location within the complex so you don’t get lost when you get there.
Take their phone number just in case: only to be used in an emergency, but if a major accident or incident occurs on the way that they are likely to know about and it affects you, it would be a good idea to let them know. Being on time (or a little early) means you have chance to gather your thoughts and try and relax a little…
6: “I don’t know”
Chris Meredith suggests you do your research on the company to ensure you are prepared if they ask you any questions about it and how you will fit in with them. Even if you are going for an internal position it makes sense to ensure you have all your facts and figures correct and have a knowledge of the company’s aims, values and plans.
They are bound to ask you something relating to your knowledge of the company and/or the position on offer so it makes sense to swot up beforehand.
7: “I don’t have any questions”
It’s easy to say you don’t have any questions when asked at the end of the interview, as you can feel that you are somehow lucky to be there and that the ball is in the interviewer’s court.
However, the article says you should be prepared with a question or two that shows your interest in the company. It suggests you ask about your personal development opportunities. How about the ability to develop a certain project or have specific training in a certain area? Just try to keep it closely related to the job and realistic… which leads us on to the next point!
8: “How much holiday do I get?”
Unless it is an unusual job which involves complicated shift routines or international travelling it’s likely the holiday entitlements are similar to most other companies. Your employment contract will show you your holiday entitlement and it’s wise to leave any mention of holidays out of the interview itself.
If you get the call to offer you the job and you are about to go away for a week or two, inform them about it so they know there may be a delay in you starting the job. But by discussing it in the interview room makes you look, Chris Meredith says, “like someone who is just looking for an easy life”.
9: “I’ll just take this call”
The article strongly advises you to turn your mobile phone off before you go into the interview room. Friends and family texting you to wish you good luck will only be distracting to both you and the interviewers and will lead to some embarrassment.
However, purposely checking the latest twitter or Facebook updates will surely lead to you not being seen in a good light, even if the job is a Social Media manager! And whatever you do, never read a text or update whilst hold your hand out and saying “Bear With” in ‘Miranda’ fashion!
10: “I thought you already had a copy”
Take copies of your CV with you to the interview, recommends the article. Read the information you have been given carefully to see if you need to take copies of your certificates, most likely if you are applying for a graduate entry job. You may be asked to take a portfolio of your work, depending on the position. Some companies ask you to take your passport or proof of identification. So be prepared and make sure you have everything to hand.
It’s always wise to be sure your CV is up to date and you can explain any gaps in your employment. And of course, don’t be tempted to embellish too much in case you get caught out!
Read the full article on The Telegraph's website here.
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