Job Interviews – Five common mistakes that could cost you the job

Job interviews, we’ve all been to them, you win some, you lose some. But could altering a few things mean you win more? Let’s consider some of the crucial things that you could overlook that have the potential to drop you down the rankings into second place.


Timekeeping is an age old gripe of employers. Being on time is crucial, but being just about on time doesn’t make a great impression either. Walking into the interview flustered, sweating and out of breath says you don’t plan your time well.

My recommendation would always be, aim to be an hour early, find the building where the interview is going to be based, then find a local coffee shop, grab a coffee and look over the job spec and your CV, remind yourself of all the details and mentally prepare yourself. This way when you walk into the interview, you’ve got no chance of being late or flustered, you’ll walk in cool, calm and collected.

  1. Preparation

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”.

If you can’t be bothered to spend the time preparing, you probably don’t want the job, so don’t waste your time.

If you do want the job, there’s some main areas to cover so you are as prepared as possible for what may be to come:

  • The job spec – look through the duties in the job spec and identify what you have and haven’t covered previously.
  • The company – what does the company do? who are their competitors? who are their big clients? what are their USPs? how long have they been around? Demonstrating this level of interest in the company shows that you are interested and engaged in the process.
  • The interviewer – LinkedIn is a great tool here, if not, ask your recruiter. how long have they been there? where were they before? how have they progressed their career to get to where they are? This enables you to relate to them better and facilitates the flow of conversation.
  1. Presentation

It’s always been said, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

This is so important for job interviews! Most interviewers agree that they know if the candidate is right for the job within the first few minutes of the interview, don’t give them a reason to decide you aren’t the one!

  • Appearance – ladies, less is more when it comes to an interview. That means less make up, less cleavage, less short skirts. Guys, less aftershave, less hair gel, less wild facial hair. Keep everything neat and neutral, this way, no matter your interviewers personal taste, you’re unlikely to leave a bad impression.
  • Attire – dress for the role and the industry, here’s another instance where your recruiter can be a real help. If you’re going for an interview with a Financial Services or Legal company, definitely don the suit and tie, but if you’re interview is within a more liberal industry like Media or Entertainment, you might be better off with smart jeans and a nice top/casual shirt. It’s about dressing like you want the job, if you’re dressed the extreme opposite of those you’re working with, they may wonder if you’ll fit in.
  • Strong handshake – this shows assertiveness and confidence and a limp handshake is an immediate turn off. Practice makes perfect with this one.
  1. Answering questions

Some people find this to be the easiest aspect of the interview, others find it the hardest, so it really depends on you.

Answering questions in an interview is all about what you can demonstrate. So give examples in your answers about previous situations you have been in where you’ve used those skills or demonstrated those attributes.

For example, if an interviewer asked you about your biggest weakness, a common interview favourite, tell them your weakness, an example of when this affected you and how you’ve taken steps to make it less of a weakness moving forward. This shows that you have acknowledged the things you aren’t great at and are proactively working on it.

If you don’t have examples from your working past, don’t be afraid to grab something from your personal life or school days, it shows you can think well on your feet.

  1. Asking questions

Always, always have at least 5 questions that you want to ask at the end of the interview.

Topics to avoid:

  • Money/Salary
  • Holidays
  • Benefits
  • Office Politics, etc.

These are all about what the organisation can do for you, this makes you appear a little me, me, me. You want to ask about the company and what direction it’s going in and what you could be contributing to in the future.

Topics to ask around:

  • Company strategy
  • Potential expansion
  • Group interaction (if they are part of a Group of Companies)
  • The interviewers opinions on the company and why they like being there.

In closing an interview, always end with another firm handshake and a positive departing comment like, “Lovely to meet you, see you again soon hopefully.”

Hopefully, there are a couple of things contained about that you hadn’t considered or could brush up on, or maybe if has given you assurance that you’re ticking all the boxes.

If you’re a Finance candidate within Media, Marketing, Publishing or Entertainment and are seeking a new role, please do get in touch: