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Five easy ways to mess up your job interview before it begins

Don’t go crazy with your questions - a couple of interesting and well-researched ones should be enough!

A job interview is a mysterious thing. You think you have nailed it, but then there is nothing but tumbleweed and the chirrup of crickets. How can this be when you got on so well with your interviewer and felt that you really bonded? Perhaps you made some basic – although not necessarily obvious – mistakes before you even got into the interview room.

Step 1: “No, I can’t make it then, nor then…”

Perhaps you were inflexible scheduling the interview. Candidates need to remember that every interaction leading up to an interview counts and tells the employer what type of person you are. When you are scheduling the interview, make sure you are flexible and available. If the employer suggests a time that might cause you genuine problems, be responsive and flexible and suggest suitable alternatives; otherwise, accept the time on offer.

Step 2: You showed up too early

Showing up early is a good thing – within reason. If you turn up half an hour to an hour early, it is better not to sit in reception making everyone edgy; instead, go to a nearby coffee shop with a book and head back 10 minutes before the appointment.

The opposite is even worse, of course. If you are more than five minutes late, this is a very bad start. If you are delayed, ensure you phone ahead to warn the interviewers and explain how the circumstances are beyond your control; however, it is still likely that have blown it! It is always best to allow plenty of time and read a few chapters in the coffee shop.

Step 3: You acted like an idiot in reception

The receptionist is watching you! Once you enter the building, you should act as if the interview has started. If you slouch on the comfy seats, put up your feet, play noisy games on your phone or jabber loudly with your friends and perhaps add in a bit of loud swearing, this is going to make a very poor impression. The way in which you conduct yourself in reception should be exactly the same as in the interview.

Step 4: You parroted your CV

Your CV should not be your interview script. The meeting is a chance for the interviewer to see how easy it is to get on with you and whether you can hold a reasonable conversation. If you are unable to give your interviewer any more than the pre-prepared bullet points in your CV, you will be out of the door within minutes!

Step 5: “Do you have any questions?”

Intelligent questions at the close of the interview are a must, not a maybe. They demonstrate curiosity, preparation and that you were listening during the interview; therefore, ensure you have some questions that demonstrate you have done your research. Look at your questions as your opportunity to lead the conversation and extend the interview in the direction you want it to go.

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