You’re waiting for the delayed 07:50 train to Manchester from a cold leafy suburb. It’s pouring rain and howling winds; typical British weather. There’s a massive pile of paperwork and a day of back to back meetings awaiting you when you finally arrive into the office. The cup of coffee you skipped ironing your shirt for just isn’t cutting the mustard.
To cheer yourself up, you scroll through the job boards, on the hunt for the perfect career.
Fast forward a few days and you’re on our way to the interview. It might still be cold, but the sun is shining, and things are looking up!
To save you from your own interview nightmare, we’ve rounded up the most terrifying feedback that still haunts our consultants. You have been warned!
Put some effort in
Firstly, on the topic of commuting …
“When a candidate was asked why he was interested in the job he said it was a shorter commute than his current position.”
Even if there is truth in it, a shorter commute shouldn’t be your first answer. A job that allows for a new challenge alongside a better work-life balance? Now that’s a solid reason to look for a new role.
Make your first impression count
They say you only get 3 seconds to make a first impression. With that in mind, it’s vital that you dress appropriately and take care over personal hygiene. A round-up of the feedback some candidates have received includes:
“I didn’t like her eyeshadow”
“Too much cleavage on show”
“They had bad body odour”
“A lilac suit isn’t appropriate in this environment”
Of course, plenty of this is subjective and it could be argued that the interviewer should look further than appearances, but it’s worth remembering that hiring managers are only human and they can just as easily be distracted by an un-ironed shirt or too-long acrylic nails, (especially like in this instance when the candidate was applying for a legal secretary role that required touch typing!)
Show some enthusiasm
“The candidate had all the skills but showed no enthusiasm, interest or character in the interview”
Is your interview style less Suits and more Walking Dead?
When in an interview you should always be your most authentic (and professional) self. That includes showing a bit of personality. Very few employers will hire someone when they have no clue as to their character. How you fit in to the current teams’ dynamic is just as important as your skill set.
Honesty is the best policy
Whereas some people would list honesty amongst their strengths in an interview, some should consider adding lying to their list of ‘key skills’ like this guy:
“I had a UX candidate interview a while back who had a lot of freelance work listed on his CV. When it was dug into a little further, it turned out he had only helped out on a friends’ website and had next to no professional experience.”
While we appreciate it can be hard to break into a new industry, lying your way into an interview will only get you caught out in the long run. It’s best to be upfront to your recruiter about how much commercial experience you have so they can introduce you to the right company. You’ll need a business who can support your development, plus it will save the embarrassment of being caught out at interview.
Watch your language
We’ve mentioned being yourself but there’s being authentic and honest, and then there’s this:
“I had one client who fed back that the candidate gave an excellent interview, answered some difficult competency-based questions with excellent examples, probed on recent projects, articulated knowledge of current industry trends and showed a real depth of research into the company. However, when asked if he had any further questions, he somewhat let himself down by asking “well what’s the salary and sh**?”
Our advice? Find a balance between the two.
Show how you build professional relationships
“Feedback I got for one candidate is that she showed a pattern of not getting on with previous employers.”
As much you might feel they deserve it, you should never bad mouth your ex-boss during an interview. It sends out all the wrong messages – are you difficult to work with? Will you bad mouth them in the future? Do you encourage a negative culture? Discuss ‘challenges’ rather than ‘problems’, share how you overcame them and only bring this up if it’s relevant to the question you’ve been asked.
Know your stuff
“The candidate kept calling the MD the wrong name…”
A little research goes a long way towards showing your interest in the business. Learning the names of your interviewers is a small but significant way of showing you are invested and pay attention to the little details.
In this day and age, we can’t believe we have to share this point. One of our consultants described a scenario where:
“I had feedback for one of my candidates that he had no understanding of women and they didn’t think any amount of research would change that.”
More than just a buzzword for 2018, an inability to communicate with others, because of their gender, race, ability or any other difference, is a sure-fire way to see your career falter.
Clean up your act
“My client googled the candidate and found a homophobic tweet in his past that went viral”
Though the client understood that it was a long time ago and everyone makes mistakes, as a public sector organisation they couldn’t expose themselves to the risk that it would resurface. Be wary of what you put on social media if your accounts are public, you never know what will come back to haunt you. Consider cleaning up your social media profiles to remove evidence of posts or photos that may not reflect the person you are now, or the professional persona you aim to demonstrate.