Seven mistakes to avoid in a job interview

The seven most common mistakes jobseekers make at interviews and expert tips on how to avoid them, according to Suhail Masri is the vice president of employer solutions at the Middle East jobs site Bayt.com.

Suhail Masri,vice president of employer solutions at the Middle East jobs site Bayt.com, said salaries are not the only factor that attracts or deters employees from a particular job. Pawan Singh / The National
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Do you have a job interview coming up? Do you want to leave an impression and get a call back? Well, if your answer is “yes”, then you have some preparation to do. Many employers turn away job seekers for reasons that go beyond their qualifications.

Aside from having a great CV, a well-written cover letter and the expertise for the job, poor personal marketing, or let’s say, personal branding, can cost you a job. Here is a list of the seven most common mistakes jobseekers make at interviews and expert tips on how to avoid them:

1. Being unprepared

Going in for an interview not knowing what the company really does or what the job entails is a big “no” for hiring managers.

Carry out a simple Google search. The company’s website, social media pages and sometimes media articles can give you a better idea of what the company does. It is prudent to familiarise yourself with the company’s products, projects and even advertising campaigns. Doing this will impress the interviewer with your knowledge of the company and express your passion for its products and services.

2. Obsessing over the salary

If there is anything that employers hate, it is asking about salary and benefits too early and before even being offered the job. Being invited for a first interview is how hiring managers get to know more about you, your experience, education, expertise and sometimes the parameters of the job. Your employment package (salary, compensation, benefits and annual leave) are still not up for discussion at this point. It is recommended that you only begin negotiating these issues once a job offer is made.

3. Not listening

A bad communicator is not a welcome addition to any professional team. Not paying attention and not interacting with enthusiasm is something that will, more often than not, lead managers to tell you “no”. Part of landing a job is showing your potential manager that you’re an effective communicator. When meeting your potential employer, be fully involved in the conversation, interacting and asking questions. But do let the interviewer talk and finish their sentences before replying.

4. Accusing others for shortcomings

A non-team-player is someone who blames others for his/her mistakes. If you’ve failed professionally, at any point, do not accuse others for your own shortfalls. Even if you were faced with difficult problems, unsupportive surroundings or unhealthy work environments, never spend the interview blaming that for not succeeding. Talking negatively about previous places of employment is in poor taste and can show potential managers you’re vindictive and unmotivated. Try to be as diplomatic as possible. Mention the obstacles you’ve faced, but also explain how you overcame them.

5. Being overly competitive

Sometimes the hiring process isn’t a simple round of interviews but could include tests and assessments or a group interview with other potential candidates. When among other candidates competing for the same job as you, show the manager you’re a team player and that you’re able to professionally communicate with peers and managers. Do not try to outshine someone else by putting them down or invalidating their efforts.

6. Being clueless

There is no shame in asking for help with your CV or cover letter writing as a better-qualified friend or professional service can benefit you a lot. But, if you’ve received help, read your CV thoroughly and know every word printed on it. Also, ensure all the information provided is 100 per cent accurate and truthful. Interviewers can tell easily if a candidate is not being fully honest.

7. Being careless

Be wary of how you present the information on your CV and the people you previously worked for. How you communicate your previous experience can be a very tricky subject. You may be asked about your previous boss, company culture, projects you’ve worked on and more. Present that information honestly and professionally without demeaning or badmouthing anyone. Also bear in mind your previous job’s confidentiality policy and level of secrecy.

Suhail Masri is the vice president of employer solutions at the Middle East jobs site Bayt.com.

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