Updated: Apr 22, 2020
We've been asking local employers for tips on what to do in an interview – and, of course, what not to do! Here are our top 10 not to do in that all-important job interview.
1. Don't go in unprepared
No matter how busy you are in the run up to the interview, don't cut corners on your research. It's vital that you go into any interview with as much knowledge as possible about the company, your employer and your potential new role. It will be obvious to the interviewer if you're badly prepared, so make full use of the internet and social networks such as LinkedIn well in advance, and know exactly who you're dealing with. Take time to assess the industry, too, so you're fully aware of the competition and where your company stands in its market.
2. Don't be late
There are no two ways about it: if you're late, unless you've rearranged this in advance, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage before you begin. Leave bags of time. Equally, if you're hours early, don't spend all of that time sat waiting in the company's reception...
3. Don't go casual
Even in a relaxed company, the interview is the time to make an excellent first impression. Professional attire is the normal dress code, or if it's the kind of interview where a suit would look odd, ensure you're extremely well-presented. That goes for the materials you take with you, too – prepare extra copies of your CV and references, and make sure any folders are smart – leave that One Direction stationery at home.
4. Don't give the wrong impression
Avoiding eye contact, slumping or having a weak, sweaty handshake are all big no-nos. It's common sense, really – you need to strike the interviewer as confident and capable, so walk tall, greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm (but not crushing) handshake, meet their eyes and sit in a positive stance, without fidgeting. If you're prone to nerves, take a few deep breaths before you go in, and talk yourself into a more comfortable state of mind (not out loud).
5. Don't be negative
Normally, it's good to tell the truth. But if the truth is that you're looking for a new job because you hate everyone in your current employment and the mere sight of your boss makes you want to harm someone, keep it to yourself. Even if you have justified grounds for thinking the management needs a restructure, or you want to emphasise the difference between your old company and the new one, being negative is a surefire way to turn your interviewer off. Focus on the positives, and continue to make a winning impression.
6. Don't rush
Think before you speak. It's preferable to admit that you need time on a question, or that you don't know something, rather than rambling off at a tangent or trying to 'blag' an answer and coming across as vague or cliched. You probably do have a great answer, the key thing is to arrive at it in a calm, measured fashion! Equally, if you know you're likely to freeze, practise some standard answers beforehand, so you have a framework to fall back on if you struggle to think under pressure.
7. Don't be caught out by your own CV
Know that CV like the back of your hand, and be prepared to answer questions on all aspects of it. If there is something you know you won't want to dwell on, like any gaps, or jobs you're not proud of, think about how you can turn things into positives so you won't be daunted or flustered if they do come up.
8. Don't treat it like a social occasion
No matter how confident you feel about your interview success, don't slip into an unprofessional, over-friendly, or – heaven forbid – flirty, tone. Remember why you're there, and don't presume that you'll be the chosen candidate. Concentrate on demonstrating that you'll be an asset to the company. It's also important not to overshare. The interviewer may have to see several people in a row and they won't have time to hear your entire life story. It's not the X-Factor, after all…
9. Don't take a back seat
No-one wants to employ a wet lettuce. If you're qualified for the job and you're interested in the job, show it by getting involved in the interview. Plan intelligent questions in advance and remember that it should be a two-way process – be inquisitive about the role that you're trying to get. You should be paying attention to everything the interviewer says and reacting to it, so it's very much a dialogue, rather than a monologue from either side.
10. Don't relax (too much)
Some employers recommend ending the interview by telling the interviewer how much you want the job and concluding that you think you would be a good fit – it may give them the opportunity to give you some insight as to their thought process, too. Either way, once it's over, don't relax. It's become normal to follow up with a brief email, thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest in the role. It shows you really want it. Just don't make it a begging letter