Common Job Interview Mistakes You Need To Avoid

As a former headhunter, I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates and I’ve gotten quite sensitive in capturing common job interview mistakes from job applicants and interviewees. I hardly ever gave candidates feedback largely because it’s hard to do so without offending them. In fact, almost all headhunters will avoid giving feedback.

But since I am in a good mood today…

Here are my top 7 red flags and common job interview mistakes which cause candidates to fail interviews

Talking too much about compensation

I usually ask about expected salary at the start of the interview. And if it’s within range of what the hiring company is willing to pay, I move forward with the interview.

In my experience, candidates who kept harping on about salary showed they were primarily motivated by money and hence, didn’t really care about the role.

The candidates who secured the highest offers always first proved they were amazing for the job. Once the company feel in love with them, they used this leverage to get a really great offer in the bag.

Bad introduction

“Please introduce yourself” is a standard opening question in just about every interview. It’s shocking how many candidates struggled to answer. Worst yet, as it was the first question in the interview, it leaves a bad first impression when answered poorly.

Practice your 30 second elevator pitch. Record yourself. Make it come out effortlessly.

LinkedIn profile does not match their resume

As a LinkedIn profile is public, candidates are less likely to fill it full of half-truths or outright lies. It is very common for me to find roles on LinkedIn that are missing on the resume, massive differences in start/finish dates, and huge differences in title. I question candidates on this and it is very uncomfortable for them when they get caught.

Here is a good guide on how to write a great LinkedIn profile.

Low Energy

People have different levels of energy on different days. I don’t expect every candidate to come in all cheerful and bubbly but at least make the effort. I always found it hard to interview low energy candidates and dig into their career histories.

Many leading companies these days value self-motivated, driven employees. Be that ideal employee.

Strange things in the background during video / phone interviews

These days, many recruiters use Skype video interviews instead of calling the applicant down to the office. It saves time for both parties and is really useful when hiring overseas candidates. But please for the mother the god clean up your space and keep it quiet. I’ve seen cleaners cleaning the room while the interview is occurring. And the candidate just pretends they’re not there. It’s super distracting a reflects badly on their professionalism.

Google some videos on how to get the lighting right and position yourself in front of a clean wall. It’ll make you seem far more professional.

Weird things on their social profiles

I always do a bit of Googling before I interview a candidate. In most cases it is fine but there are times where I find things that are going to impact the candidates’ chances of securing the role. Assume anything you post online is public and you won’t have this issue.

Not 100% sure what role they want

Many candidates start hunting for a job before they have a clear view of what role they want. When interviewing, I probe on this point and if I feel the candidate is interviewing across too many incompatible roles then I usually decline. Normally the candidate will get to the offer stage then withdraw, or accept and then switch jobs very quickly when they realise they made a bad career move.

It results in wasted time for both of us.

Final Thoughts

Don’t try to drastically change who you are to slip through interviews. Often what one person considers common job interview mistakes others will see as a positive. In general, though, anything you do that consistently comes across as dishonest, abrupt, rude, lazy, uncomfortable, etc., you should work on as that rarely has a positive impact on your interview.

All this advice, of course, applies if you’re already getting job interviews. If you’re struggling to get interviews to your dream job, your CV is obviously lacking. Contact me and let’s see how we can improve your CV, ace your interview, and land that dream job.

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Russel Yee

Former Headhunter

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