14 Criminal Interview Mistakes
Over the last 10 years, I’ve taken feedback on over 2,000 interviews and this is what I’ve learned:
1) Do not, under any circumstances be late. This might sound basic, but leave plenty of time ahead of your interview. No one cares if your train was delayed, or your car broke down. If you can’t get it together for an interview, what are you going to be like doing the actual job?
2) Dress appropriately – don’t try and be quirky, respect the process unless instructed otherwise. Guys – suit and tie AND DO UP YOUR TOP BUTTON. Again, this should be obvious, but please – polish your shoes. Girls – less straightforward as you don’t have the luxury of a cop out like a suit. Smart and appropriate for the office environment.
3) A firm handshake and eye contact. It may sound like a joke, but practice doing this. No looking at the floor, no offering your hand like it’s a dead fish. Equally, it’s not a competition – leave the Ivan Drago impression at the door.
4) SMILE – this feedback is surprisingly common. It’s important to engage your interviewer. 50% of an interview is about the other person engaging with you on a personal level. If you come across as serious or boring they won’t necessarily want you on their team – and if they DO respond to you playing the part of an 1860’s governess, that probably means that they are genuinely serious or boring. Do you really want to be on their team? Don’t forget, interviewing is a two-way street. Read the other person’s character and attitude.
5) Do your research – this sounds like a no brainer, but if for an example you’re an accountant, it takes 5 minutes to download the annual report and go through it. Search any news items from the last two years and most importantly – look your interviewer up on LinkedIn. There is no excuse for not knowing their provenance – where they’ve come from, any potential mutual connections. This is a gimme, but it’s amazing how many people fall at this early hurdle.
6) Don’t fidget – ever.
7) Don’t make yourself look small – no huddled shoulders and wringing of hands. Be open.
8) Don’t be over confident and take up the room – read the other person’s body language and mirror it.
9) Tailor your responses to the job – don’t go off track, don’t ramble.
10) Don’t be overly negative or spend time whining about your previous job. Be enthusiastic and positive. It’s a bad look to slag off your former employer.
11) Make sure you have questions prepared
12) Make sure you know your cv in depth and you can answer all questions on it. Reread your CV – it might have been months since you last actually considered its content.
Have answers for any gaps on your CV or any surprising job moves etc.
13) DON’T ask the interviewer at the end whether they have any concerns. This puts them on the spot, is unprofessional and more than anything displays a lack of confidence. What’s your plan? To challenge them there and then? And that’s assuming they give you honest feedback. A more productive question might be “If I were to secure this role, what do you think the biggest challenge would be for someone with my background coming into this position .”
14) Last but not least – PLEASE call your recruiter when you get out of the interview. We don’t ask you to do this for our health. We won’t speak with the client until we’ve spoken with you. I’m not going to do a Fermat’s Last Theorem job here, but there are honestly a plethora of reasons why you need to do this and it would take hours to list them. To name a couple – the first question the client will ask us is “What was X’s feedback?”. It makes neither of us look good if we haven’t spoken. If an interview has gone really well, very often the client will call within five minutes of you leaving. Equally if you feel you’ve left something out there or could have answered a question differently, it’s important for us to address it with the client before a slight question mark turns into a fully fledged “No”.