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Interviews – What not to do!

Posted by Loren Von Sternberg

There have been several articles on our newsfeeds such as “good interview tips”, “how to prepare for an interview” or “how to get over the line at interview stage” – Whilst these are all extremely helpful, I haven’t seen too many pieces that identify the things that drive interviewers up the wall...

Remember, the hardest part of the job process is getting an interview – Why go through all that hard work to shoot yourself in the foot? 

Here are my 10 tips of things not to do at interview stage.

1. Probably the most obvious one but DON’T BE LATE! 

Yes, there are certain things that happen in everyday life that are out of our control but do try to manage expectation. Whether you need to call the organisation or call your consultant, make sure that you have done everything in your power to alleviate the disappointment when you’re not on time. Plan your journey the day before.


Not to say you are this kind of person but even if you are having a bad day, be polite - the interview starts the minute you walk through the door. No matter what level you are, if you treat the receptionists with minimal respect then this will go back to the hiring manager and could be the difference between a yes or a no.


Don’t be that person that gets a call mid-interview. No matter how much you love Gangnam Style, it is not going to help your cause!


Again, this is another part of the interview process that is often overlooked. I have worked with several clients in the past where they will collect candidates from reception and take them up to the 15th floor to interview.  The walk from reception to the meeting room is prime time to build rapport and, on most occasions, will set the tone for the interview.  No weather chat...


You would think that this is also straightforward... You would be wrong. These days, there a lot more organisations that are adopting casual dress in the office, which is great, but should be seen as a treat once you’re through the door in my opinion. You only get one chance at a first impression so; dress smart, do your hair, brush your teeth and just be presentable.  If you are part of the bearded population like myself, make sure you have a trim – nobody will be impressed if you walk in looking like Tom Hanks in Castaway.


It is a tried and tested theory that body language will have a huge effect at interview stage.   

  • Sit up straight
  • Don’t fold your arms
  • Smile
  • Look directly at the interviewer​​


Firstly, don’t be afraid to show your personality. Drop in a joke, have a laugh (to an extent) but just enjoy the process - I interviewed with a recruitment agency a number of years ago and during the interview, the internal recruiter said to me: “what would make me remember you? What makes you interesting?” At the time, I hadn’t been asked that question before and I completely froze, scrambling around for ideas. It was only when I left that I thought “I should have said X or Y” – Have a think before your interview about what makes you different? What are your interesting facts?  Yes, you’re being interviewed to see if you can do a job but I would say 70% of the interview is the organisation trying to gauge who you are as a person. SELL YOURSELF!

8. “WE”, “THEY”, “THE TEAM”  

You probably won’t even realise you are doing this but it is definitely worth thinking about, so you can consciously make an effort not to. I have interviewed many candidates over the years and have gone through countless competency based questions and it’s surprising how much it happens - when you are asked to give an example, make sure you use “I”, not “we” or “they” or “the team” – the interviewer wants to know what you’ve done specifically! What was your role in this?  It’s your interview, make it about you!


Even if your previous boss or colleagues were the worst people on earth, try not to feel the need to share this information.  Line managers want to hear your motivators for why you’re looking to join their organisation, not why you’re leaving the last. Positivity is the key!


Simple, if you don’t understand a question or do not know the answer, be honest with the interviewer. Don’t feel like you need to have the perfect answer for everything, hiring managers would rather see honesty from you rather than watch you fabricate something out of thin air. Just ask them to repeat the question or ask them to explain in another way. 



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