Getting a job, especially one of the sought-after ones, involves a good amount of strategy and effort just to get through the multiple stages of application and assessment. This makes it all the more disappointing to almost make it, but mess things up in an interview – usually the last stage to clear before you get an offer. To avoid such anti-climaxes, here are a few things you should not do in an interview.
Give imprecise answers, even to icebreaking questions
Everything you say during an interview counts. Even if the interviewer is asking a question just to get you to relax, your answer shouldn't completely stray from the point. For instance, the answer to how your university experience was, should not be a bare list of courses you took. Instead, the focus should be on your unique experience of being a university student and, possibly, the impact it had on you.
Trying to tackle a pointed question with a long-winded, vague answer is not helpful. It doesn't just make it obvious you don't have the answer, but also casts doubt on your ability to understand a question and be concise.
Bring up conflict, unless you have a great example of having resolved one
A typical interview lasts for less than an hour. In such little time, it's hardly possible for an employer to understand the motivations and complexity behind life choices you have made. If something in your life is complicated and makes you look conflict prone, don't bring it up. In absence of enough context, conflict will almost always paint you in a negative light.
The only good way to discuss conflict in an interview is to show that you have faced one and handled it well. In competency based interviews, employers often ask for examples of situations where you handled a problem. These might be good places to tell your story, highlighting your strength as a mediator.
Provide generic reasons for wanting to join a company
A lot of training and grooming goes into a recruitment, and employers want to make sure these efforts don't go to waste. During interviews, they try to understand your level of commitment and genuine interest in the organization.
Answers like “the people are cool” or “the company is a good one by any standards,” to why you want to join an organization are weak responses. These things can be said about many organizations, and doesn't tell the interviewer why you want to join her/his one in particular. If your employer doesn't see a reason you want to join the organization, s/he will likely not be convinced about your commitment.
Use irrelevant personal examples
Although it's not entirely wrong to draw examples from your personal experiences, these examples do not carry as much weight as ones from your academic or professional life. For instance, if you have described yourself as a collaborative person, talk about team projects where you have excelled by coordinating with others. An irrelevant personal example like how you and your friends collaborated to throw someone a birthday party should ideally not be used here.
Using such examples may give the impression that you really have no better evidence of your skills, or that you simply cannot think on your feet and come up with something better.
Be sombre or impatient
It's okay to tactfully highlight your accomplishments in an interview. But, if you blurt them out in one breath or forcefully bring them into the conversation, you seem both brash and overly eager to prove that you're talented. Instead, let the interview follow its natural course. Your CV has all the details anyway and you can always steer the conversation towards your strengths with a little patience.
It's also important to not let your bad mood or stress level find their way into the interview room. Maybe you had a rough morning. Maybe being stuck in traffic made you panic about reaching late. Regardless of what you're feeling, make a conscious effort to smile, seem pleasant and engage. If your interviewer cracks a joke, a polite smile is a much better response than a blank stare.
Tasmiah is a fresh graduate from IBA, DU. She likes food and makes stressful choices. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.