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Five mistakes to avoid in job interviews

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

This article was published on PASA.

The real cost of hiring a new employee is around 50 per cent of that person's annual salary, so it's important to get it right. Arguably, no part of the recruitment process is more important than the job interview.

This article delves into the world of film and TV to illustrate some of the mistakes that employers and candidates should avoid in a job interview situation.

1. Respect the Other Party

Respect cuts both ways. Even the way you position yourself in the room or how you interact with the interviewee can have a bearing. For example, watch what happens when this UK show host turns his back on one of his guests:

Nothing is going to undermine the interview process more than a lack of respect on either side. Body language and non-verbal cues are just as important as what is being said. Ultimately you want the candidate to know that your organisation is a great place to work.

Likewise, interviewees need to treat the process with respect or potentially undermine their chances before they even start. Don’t make the interview memorable for all the wrong reasons by showing a lack of respect, intended or otherwise!

2. Come Prepared

When you ask a candidate a key question about their skillset, hopefully they won’t just “wing it” like Robin Williams:

The level of preparation will show how serious the candidate is about working for you. It’s therefore a good idea to test their knowledge with a couple of questions on what they know about the role and the work your procurement function undertakes.

Interviewers should also put in some preparation time. Don’t just ask the candidate to detail their CV; show your preparedness by asking specific questions about their experience that links to the new role.

3. Leave Bias at the Door

Every interviewee should be treated the same way, even if they might not seem right for the job. Conscious and unconscious bias can creep into a recruitment process but it’s important to avoid this, along with any potential conflicts of interest: something Smithers from The Simpsons does not understand.

You may think you have the right person for the job, but who is to say that the person you turned down without a fair shot wouldn’t have done a better job?

Don’t miss out on your dream candidate, or dream job, by bringing your own baggage (and bias) to the interview.

4. Don’t Talk too Much

For candidates, interviews can be a nerve-jangling, adrenaline-pumping experience. This can lead to a common mistake, which is to fill in all the silences with unnecessary information. Be careful not to overshare, or you might say something you regret …

There’s no rush. Listen carefully to the question, then take a couple of breaths to compose yourself and think about your answer carefully before responding.

5. Always Turn Up

If you’ve run a recruitment process, you will know that people will call at the last minute to pull out, or not show up at all. But as a candidate it’s usually worth turning up even if you’re having a terrible day, because you never know what the outcome will be:

If you really can’t make it, be sure to let the employer know. Few companies will think less of you if you are honest in this situation. If you simply don't show up, you will risk damaging your reputation – and when data can be shared between recruiters and organisations, the last thing you want is a bad reputation preceding you to future interviews.

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