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Interview hell: how to avoid these common job interview mistakes

Job interviews are nerve-racking

There is so much at stake and sometimes your nerves win out, no matter how well prepared you think you are. Fumbling and bumbling, sometimes we make the worst gaffes and embarrassing faux pas when we set out to demonstrate the coolest of heads and the calmest demeanour.

Accepting the nerves and not trying to bury our discomfort and anxiety is a good start; in addition, here are some real-life examples of interview nightmares and ways to avoid making the same mistakes. Bearing these principles in mind may help you to avoid embarrassing errors next time you find yourself facing the panel.

1 – The accidental insult

You call somebody the wrong name or mistake a crucial element of the work for something completely different. Apart from making everyone cringe, this betrays insufficient interest in the company and its representatives and makes you look unprepared.

Solution: Do your homework, leave plenty of time to prepare, and rehearse names if you are the type to forget them under pressure. Over-preparing will enable you to relax more during the interview.

2 – Rudeness under pressure

Rudeness is never acceptable, but some people lapse into it when stressed. Receptionists, parking attendants and secretaries are often on the receiving end of rudeness from stressed interviewees arriving in a state of nervous collapse over the impending grilling.

Solution: Get a grip and make sure you maintain your composure towards everyone you meet, no matter how unravelled you feel inside. The receptionist will report back on your conduct; so will the parking attendant. No matter how well you perform in the interview, arrogance will undo you.

3 – Blankness

You are asked a trick question, such as “What animal would you be and why?”. You answer with something ridiculous, such as “A gorilla, as I am large and hairy.” The interview goes rapidly downhill from there on.

Solution: Research how to answer trick questions. Ask for a few minutes to consider before you blurt out a cringe-worthy response. Take deep breaths and if you do find yourself claiming resemblance to a gorilla, make a joke of it and come up with a revised answer that paints you in a better light.

4 – Appearance lets you down

You look in the mirror after the interview and have a bogey, or a stain on your shirt, or spinach in your teeth. You draw the conclusion that the whole thing has been pointless.

Solution: If you were otherwise amazing in the interview, a forgiving employer may be charitable about cosmetic issues; however, it is more likely that they will draw conclusions about your attention to detail and your organisational skills from how well you present yourself. Always have a good look in the mirror before you go to the hot seat. Iron your clothes the night before, make sure they are immaculate before you leave the house, and don’t eat anything between leaving the house and going into the interview.

The key to shining in your next job interview is to prepare, prepare, prepare – and then prepare some more. Practice with friends, family and colleagues and research thoroughly to impress the panel. Learn how to calm your nerves and make light of small mistakes.

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