5 Classic Job Interview Mistakes, And How To Avoid Them
The role of a specialist construction engineering recruitment consultant involves a lot of interviews. I interview people when they first contact us to enquire about new opportunities; and clients interview me regularly when looking for support with their recruitment.
So it becomes second nature. However, for our candidates attending an interview is not generally part of their day-to-day role. Many are used to meetings with clients and therefore know how to present themselves. But talking about themselves, their strengths, weaknesses and ambitions, doesn’t come so easily.
If you’ve got a job interview coming up, read on as this post is for you. Here’s some advice for preparing and conducting yourself at an interview, and avoiding these common mistakes.
#1: Lack of research
Some candidates make the mistake of thinking that because they work as, for example, a civil engineer and know the industry well, they don’t need to research the company in any detail before a job interview.
You may be familiar with the company, perhaps you’ve even worked or had a dealings with them before, but don’t presume you know everything. When preparing for an interview it is really important to understand what the role entails at that specific company, and what impact it will have on their business.
Where do they sit in the market? Have there been recent developments that the job vacancy may be related to? What do they need from their employees to meet their business objectives?
With this information you’ll be able talk with confidence about your experience and skills, relating them to the company and what they need from potential candidates.
#2: Not preparing for interview questions
Winging it is not an option! You may know your stuff. You may be a confident person. You may be able to think on your feet; but when it comes to job interviews, prepare to come unstuck! While many interviews may feel like an informal chat – relaxed and amiable – other job interviews are more formal and may involve some difficult questions.
Prepare for those tricky questions such as “give an example of your lateral thinking”, and you’ll have a well thought out answer that highlights your strengths without it sounding contrived. The alternative is that you may struggle to come up with a suitable response on the spot, and not make the impression you want.
Speak to your recruitment consultant about the style of interview to expect. They may have recruited for that employer before and will able to give you an idea of the likely format. However, interview styles may vary between different interviewers within a company, so be prepared for every eventuality.
When I ask for feedback from clients about our candidates and how an interview went, sometimes I am surprised to hear that the candidate was negative during the interview. They might have been negative about their current role when asked about why they are looking for a move. Or negative about their current or previous employers when talking about their experience.
While honesty and integrity are highly valued attributes; negativity – whether justified or not – unfortunately backfires on the candidate. Employers don’t want to think they could be introducing someone into their firm who will lower morale with negative comments, or that the candidate doesn’t view their job positively. Where possible put a positive spin any complaints you may have, and don’t be drawn into conversations about personalities and working relationships unless you’ve got something positive to say.
#4: Lack of questions
Generally towards the end of an interview you will be asked, “have you any questions?” If the format of the interview is more conversational, the chances are that you’ve already asked plenty. However, if the interview was more of a ‘grilling’; now’s your chance to ask a question or two.
Not having any questions up your sleeve leaves the impression that you’re not that interested or engaged with the job opportunity. Therefore it is a good idea to think of a few before the interview, ones that will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm, and also provide a good talking point.
Don’t ask questions about things you should already know – that flags up a lack of research or industry knowledge. Also avoid questions about salary, working hours etc., this is usefully not the time or place. Instead questions about what it’s like working for the company – make it personal to the interviewer – and workplace culture are a good way to find out whether you’re a good fit for the company and get more insight.
#5: Not dressing appropriately
Fortunately, I haven’t had feedback from any clients recently on this job interview mistake, but it does happen. Presentation is really important. Not just being appropriately dressed – I would favour a suit for the roles we recruit for – but general personal presentation too. Clean nails, tidy hair, polished shoes etc.
Also make sure that you switch your mobile off. Don’t turn up to an interview with a coffee picked up from the café down the road. Shake hands, give eye contact, hold doors open etc. It’s all straightforward stuff, but it’s surprising how these things get forgotten.
I hope this provides a little refresher on how to make a good impression at a job interview, and what common mistakes to avoid. If you’re looking for roles in construction engineering and would like to discuss your plans with one of our team, please get in touch. For the UK and Europe call +44 (0) 1252 413080, or contact our other regional offices here.