Struggling to get through the 1st round of interviews? Maybe you're making one of several mistakes

20 December 2019

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Are you sending out CVs and going to interviews but not finding success? Do you feel like the HR Manager has got it wrong and is not seeing your potential? Perhaps the problem isn’t actually with your skills or experience for the job. Maybe you are doing something in your interviews that is keeping the door shut to opportunities…

Interviewing is an essential part of almost every career change, but many people do not place enough weight and importance on it. Interviewing is often almost the only way for HR specialists to assess whether a candidate is suitable for the job.

So, what mistakes should you avoid to increase your chances of success?

1. You're not prepared

You've seen a great job advert, the job description seems appropriate for you and you know that you want to do it and that you'd do it well. Great! You send out your CV with a cover letter and your phone rings a few days later. On the other end of the line is an HR specialist from the company who wants to invite you in for an interview. Many people consider it a victory to get to this stage, but in reality, you're only about a third of the way there, and your interview preparations should now kick into the highest gear.

Many HR specialists agree that they deduct points for candidates who are unable to answer basic questions about the company or do not know about their products or services. Of course you don't need to be an expert on their business models, but if you have done no research on the company and you know nothing about them,  you will automatically go to the bottom of the list as you are not demonstrating that you are an organised candidate.

Likewise, do not forget to underestimate prepare for any questions regarding salary. Before the interview it would be wise to do a salary survey, to find out what the average salary is for this position, in your region and with your level of education and experience. The salary survey will also help you learn how to negotiate.

2. You speak poorly of a former or current employer

It is completely normal to have a heavy heart or some bitterness when it comes to your former or current job, but at an interview it is much better to avoid complaining about your employer. It comes across as unprofessional, childish and disloyal.

If the HR specialist asks you why you would like to leave your current job or why you left a previous job, try to answer truthfully yet diplomatically.

3. You do not ask questions

No matter what information about the job you have already got from the advert or from your own research, it is always a good sign to HR specialists if you express an interest in the details of the work and ask the right questions. You are demonstrating a genuine interest in the company and that you have prepared for the interview and do not consider it a passive discussion. Last but not least, you are showing that you are an intelligent person who takes preparation as an essential part of the interviewing process.

4. You are late and do not communicate

Being late to a scheduled interview is a complete no-no! It is a clear sign that you are unreliable - your organisational skills are not as good as you said they were in your cover letter, or you are not taking the opportunity to find new work seriously. It is fine if you are late because of unforeseen circumstances, but if this should happen, you MUST call ahead and explain the situation.

Prompt and active communication will earn you positive points; if you are in the habit of  of ignoring emails or responding to them 3 days later, you must change this for professional communication, or again you will end up at the bottom of the list. 

5. You lie, either on your CV or during the interview

A quality CV is of course essential, but you should never embellish or lie to make yours look better. A professional HR specialist will expose anything false on a CV and close your door to the company.

Finally, pay attention on social networks

In this day and age, most HR specialists will be on more than just LinkedIn and are in the habit of screening candidates across social networks, which primarily have nothing to do with their work. They do this for a simple reason: to ensure you are not presenting illegal opinions and activities and to determine if you fit in to the company's DNA. They may also check to see if your public presentation is in line with your job description for specific types of positions (especially executive-level and other representative positions).


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