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Avoiding interview blunders

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There are plenty of traps that are possible to fall into during a job interview. We outline some of these pitfalls and how to avoid them

There are a multitude of invisible traps that you can fall into during an interview, but with planning and preparation they can be avoided.

For example, during a job interview you are highly likely to describe your strengths and weaknesses. When asked, it is important not to try to disguise your strengths as weaknesses.

‘Don’t fall into the trap of providing vague responses or disguising your strengths as weaknesses,’ says Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK. ‘Everyone is human and, as such, they have flaws. Share a weakness and your personal or professional development effort to improve that weakness and turn it into a strength.

‘This will leave the hiring manager impressed with your level of self-awareness, and your commitment to your continual learning and the investment you are willing to make to develop your own career.’

NERVES

In an interview environment, your nerves can sometimes get the better of you and you may want to respond with the first thing that comes to mind, but try to remain composed.

The interviewer will be basing their decision on your answers, so make sure you provide the most appropriate responses to highlight why your skills and experience fits the role.

Being compensated fairly is important in every job. However, broaching this topic with the interviewer early in an interview can be viewed as bad form. Make sure the job is a good fit first. Is this a job you can be successful at? Will you enjoy the role? Is the company a good cultural fit for you?

Once you have answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then it’s more appropriate to make sure the compensation aligns with your expectations and your research on what the job should pay.

Sheridan adds: ‘Let the interviewer initiate the topic. If you can sense that the interview is approaching the end and compensation has not been discussed, it’s acceptable to say something like, “I’m really interested in this job and believe it’s one I can be very successful at. I look forward to the next step in the interview process. As I continue to research the company and this role, could you provide me with an idea of the compensation range so that I have a full picture of the opportunity?”’

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

As we know, first impressions count. Starting off with a bad first impression is almost impossible to unwind. Paying attention to the smaller details of your appearance will go a long way.

Trainees should always dress smartly when attending interview, even if they won't be wearing a suit in the workplace should they get the job.

‘Ensuring you are tidy and well-groomed is always a good idea – it might not get you the job, but failing to present yourself appropriately can certainly cost you the opportunity,’ adds Sheridan.

Try to arrive 10 or 15 minutes early, but not more. If you get to the office earlier than that, it could show that you place greater importance on your time than the hiring manager’s.

Also remember to mind your manners in an interview, not only with your potential manager but also other members of staff. The hiring manager may not be happy to hear that you treated their assistant rudely or weren’t polite to the receptionist on arrival.

‘Everyone you encounter, from the person in the elevator to the receptionist, is someone who could potentially weigh in on the hiring decision. Just as treating the waiter rudely at a restaurant creates a bad impression, being discourteous or abrupt with a company’s receptionist or office staff can reveal character – or lack of it – in job applicants,’ concludes Sheridan.

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