5 Cardinal Interview Sins

January 31, 2012  |   Career Coaching Blog   |     |   0 Comment

In this article we list 5 things to avoid doing at all costs in any management interview!  The list is compiled based on feedback from recruiters, our coaching clients and recruitment agencies.


1. A Failure to Research


Candidates that fail to properly research the company demonstrate one or more of the following traits;


  • Too lazy to be bothered
  • A lack of interest in the job role and the company
  • A lack of initiative and curiosity – both important qualities in most jobs


Tip: Research does not just mean understanding the company and its products – this just shows you can use Google. It also entails a broader understanding of the company strategy and market position, as well as the challenges it is facing. Company annual reports can provide much of this sort of data.


2. Influencing and Communication Skills


All good interviewers expect that a candidate might initially be nervous in an interview.  But if 30 minutes into the interview you are speaking so quietly it’s hard to hear you, or are so hesitant what you’re saying is hard to follow, this will indicate a potential significant weakness. Influencing and communication skills are a critical competency in pretty much every management position. If you lack confidence at interview the you will place severe doubts in the interviewers mind about your ability to perform well in the job.


Tip: So prior to going to an interview practice beforehand with a friend. Get them to ask you interview questions. In this way you will feel more confident at the real thing.


3. Rambling Through Your CV


A fatal mistake at the interview is to spend 20 minutes rambling through your CV and telling the interviewer your life story. Frankly after a day of interviews this will just switch the interviewer off.  When asked to run through your CV make sure you can do it in less than 5 minutes. You should aim to highlight how your skills and experience meet the needs of the job you are there to get. By spending too much time on your CV you show a lack of ability to be concise and ‘punchy’ in your communication. It also wastes your opportunity to show what you can do. An interviewer will simply not ask you all the questions that they want to if you are likely to cause the interview time to over run.


Tip: So prior to going to interview practice running through your CV aloud within 5 minutes.


4. Rambling Answers


Rather like rambling flowers an interviewer doesn’t really know where you are going if your interview answer are rambling. You should use a clear structure to make sure your answers include everything that needs to be covered. A good structure is CAR. This means you give the context, the action that you took and most importantly the result. Again you can work out the likely questions from the job description and person specification. If you are unsure read our competencies and competence based interviews article.


Tip: Prior to your interview make sure you know the competencies required and you have identified where you have shown evidence of these.


5. Smoke and Mirrors


Skilled interviewers will ensure that the candidate does 90% of the talking. This is fine provided you are not talking yourself into a corner. Never pretend to have a level of experience that you can not back up with solid evidence. Certainly make the most of your experience, but don’t stretch it to cover things you have not done. This identifies you, at worst as lacking integrity, at best as someone who might be inclined to be evasive about the facts.



All these fatal interview errors are avoidable. If you prepare before you interview and follow the tips given here you will significantly improve your chances of getting the job that you want.

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