Not having done your research
It is vital that you do your research on the company you are interviewing with prior to your interview. Not doing so is possibly the worst disaster there is and will almost certainly turn a potential employer off of you. Make sure you know exactly what it is the company does, study their website and have a good understanding of what the role you are interviewing for entails. Some company’s have very similar names, so make sure that the one you are researching is definitely the one you are interviewing with! Turning up to your interview completely unprepared is by and large the easiest disaster to avoid; not doing so is just plain foolish!
This is the most common interview disaster there is, and the best thing to do if and when it does happen is to be upfront about it and don’t just make excuses. Let your interviewers know that you are delayed with as much notice that you can give them, apologise when you arrive to the receptionist and to your interviewers and then swiftly move on. Having an apparent disregard for your interviewer’s time is not a good first impression to make. Your acknowledgements of your lack of punctuality should be both straight-forward and honest.
Speaking before you think
It is natural that in an interview, you will have lots of information that you will really want your interviewer to know before you leave the room. However, take care that you are not just blurting out random facts and that what you are saying actually has relevance to the questions you are being asked. Some people will have a tendency to blurt out random things, or be unable to stop talking, whilst others will lean on verbal crutches, such as “like” or “um”.
Rather than rushing to provide an answer as quickly as you can, take a moment to process the question you have been given to formulate a clear, relevant and concise answer. If you need further clarification, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Taking a moment to pause and then providing a really strong answer is much more beneficial than rushing an answer that is lacking.
Being asked oddball/ difficult questions
It is becoming all the more common for interviewers to ask their unsuspecting interviewees questions that seem completely random and irrelevant to the job they are applying for. Some ask riddles, some ask complicated mathematic problems, some ask general knowledge questions. The point of doing this is not to frazzle you and completely throw you off your game. This is a way for them to gauge how you will react in difficult and unexpected situations. Employers want to know how adaptable you are and whether you can keep calm under pressure.
Being completely unable to know how to answer and employers question might seem like a total disaster, but as long as you do respond and don’t let it phase you, that is the main thing they will be looking for.
Saying the wrong thing
Sometimes, saying the wrong thing can be just as bad, if not worse, than failing to say anything at all. Interviews are a nerve-wracking process and it is easy for nerves to get the better of you and lead you to say the wrong thing. Recovering from this is largely dependent on what you said, but the best thing to do is usually to take a deep breath, consider what you were trying to say and how you can phrase it better and politely ask to start over. Try and keep calm- doing so may mean that you impress your potential employer with your ability to keep your cool when under pressure.
Being too prepared
Whilst it obviously pays to be prepared, there is such a thing as being over-prepared. You want your answers to flow and seem natural and not as though you are reading from a memorised script. It is good to have an idea of how you will answer certain types of questions and to have some relevant examples ready to give if required. Make sure you are still responding directly to the question you have been asked, rather than just reciting information that is only partially related to the subject matter- you don’t want your dialogue to seem forced or stilted. Interviewers do want to see your personality as well as your professional accolades!
Using the wrong language
Be mindful of your tone and the language you are using throughout your interview. It is not appropriate to swear or use slang in an interview- even if your interviewer might. Remember where you are and what you are doing: whilst you do want to show that you have a personality, this isn’t the time to tell stories that would be better saved for the pub! It is good to relax and feel at ease in an interview, but don’t become too informal.
Being too forceful/ argumentative
Some candidates do not like to be challenged and will react badly if they are. It is quite common for you interviewer to ask for further clarification to your answers and this doesn’t mean that they are trying to catch you out. Some will do this just to see how you respond, some will do so because they simply want more information and some will do so to test if you have courage in your convictions. If your interviewer says something in response to you that you do not fully agree with, by all means push back, but do so in a calm and constructive manner without being argumentative.
Not being open-minded if you are tested
If your interviewer asks you to go through an aptitude test, for example to test your computer skills, it is important to not be affronted by this. It is by no means abnormal for employers to carry these out on their interviewees, especially if they are trying to shortlist candidates. This can make some people panic, whilst it can make others feel negatively towards the company, as though they are already being doubted. If part of your interview requires you to take a short aptitude test, just take this in your stride- if you have the necessary skills for the position, this shouldn’t pose a problem, right?
Not following up afterwards
Minimal or no follow-up is another disaster that is easily avoided. If your interview went well, then your follow-up won’t need to be much more than a thank-you email, although make sure you personalise this to show that you were engaged throughout your interview. However, if there was a moment in your interview that you wish had gone differently, this is a great opportunity to rectify this. It takes a certain amount of courage to admit that a mistake was made and doing so displays both respect for your interviewer and your own humility. You don’t want to send an email that is pages long and you still want to keep the overall tone positive, so use this for clarification and to reiterate your enthusiasm.
Mistakes happen and not every interview is going to go completely perfectly every time. Obviously, if you can pre-empt and avoid any interview disasters it is far better to do so, but successfully navigating your way out of one is a great way to set yourself apart from other potential candidates. The clear aim of an interview is to ensure that you come across in the best light possible and show your potential employer that you are the perfect fit for the role that you want.
The best way to try and avert any possible disasters is to do as much as you can to prepare yourself for whatever your interviewer may throw at you. For advice and guidance on handling a variety of different interview types, download our eBook.